Dear Recycle Lady,

My New Year’s resolution was to increase my recycling, so I am going to begin recycling can labels. Which recycle bin do I put the labels in? Also, I would like to know why labels must be removed from aluminum cans, but not steel cans.

Resolute Recycler

Dear Resolute Recycler,

Congratulations on increasing your recycling profile. Recycling more items is a great New Year’s resolution. Whether your labels are removed from steel or aluminum cans, they all are to be recycled with magazines/slicks. Be sure they are clean and dry before you put them in the bin. The reason labels must be removed from aluminum cans, but not steel cans, is that steel processes at a much higher degree of heat than aluminum does and the heat burns up the labels. According to, steel has the highest recycling rate of any material. Their research shows that more than 88 percent of scrap metal is recycled. Metal has a limited supply and steel can be recycled infinitely with no loss of quality, so recycling steel is very important.

Dear Recycle Lady,

During Christmas you made several excellent suggestions for repurposing used holiday greeting cards. I have another suggestion for you. The Veterans Hospital in Beckley accepts unused greeting cards of all kinds to give to their patients. The Veterans love having cards to send to families and friends. 

Lots of Cards

Dear Lots of Cards,

Great idea. I called the Veterans hospital, and they also thought it was a great idea. Everyone has a few cards left over, such as note cards, birthday, congratulations, thinking of you, and sympathy cards. Plus, all those cards that charitable organizations send out hoping you will send a contribution can also be sent. If you have space left over in the mailer, why not add a new pair of socks as packing. Socks of any kind are always appreciated, as are gently used books. Send cards, books and/or socks to: Beckley VA Medical Center, Voluntary Services Office, 200 Veterans Ave., Beckley, WV 25801. They greatly appreciate the donation of the items. Cards and books can be mailed by media mail, which is less expensive.

Dear Recycle Lady,

What kinds of plastics are acceptable for the Scout/Montwell project? 

Love the Project

Dear Love the Project,

All #2 and #4 polyethylene (PE) film plastics are acceptable. Commonly used items made with polyethylene film plastic, with and without a #2 or #4 on them, such as grocery and ice bags, produce, bread, and Ziploc bags are all recyclable. Newspaper sleeves, dry cleaning bags, colored plastics, bubble wrap, and overwraps don’t have a recycle symbol on them, but they are still recyclable. (Overwrap is a method of packaging several like items together. For example, six rolls of paper towels come wrapped in a plastic overwrap package.) However, there are some plastics films that are less identifiable. According to Trex information, if you pull a piece of plastic film over your thumbnail, or pull it with both hands, and it stretches, the plastic is acceptable. If it tears like paper, put it in the trash. Likewise, if the plastic package is shiny or makes a crinkly/crunchy sound when you handle it, add it to the trash also. Before recycling any plastic film item, be sure it is clean and dry. Paper labels, tape, and adhesive strips should be removed, if possible. Simply cut off these items and add the plastic to the recycling bin. For a list of frequently asked questions about plastic film, see

Good News: Chile has banned animal testing for cosmetics, and they are prohibiting the marketing or importation of any cosmetics tested on animals. More Good News: Eight states in the U.S. have put bans on animal testing: California, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, and Virginia.

Have questions about recycling, or interesting information about recycling? Send questions or requests to Dear Recycle Lady is sponsored jointly by the Greenbrier Recycling Center and Greenworks Recycling.

Related Post