Debunking Recycling Myths: 10 Common Myths & Their Truth

There are a lot of myths and confusion surrounding recycling. You may want to recycle but find it difficult to decipher what is true from what is false. Your local bottle return depot can set you straight and guide you on your recycling journey.  Before you start sorting all your bottles and cans, this blog will help by exposing the myths and providing you with facts about how and why to recycle.

Myths and Truths

Myth 1: Items can only be recycled if they are spotless inside and out.

The Truth? Recyclable items should be cleaned out and dried, but they don’t need to be so clean that you can eat or drink from them. It is important to rinse out and dry off such things as bottles and cans to avoid bad odours and mould which can render your items unsuitable for recycling.

Myth 2: Lids should be taken off bottles and jugs.

The Truth? While you may believe it is helpful to remove the lids and separate them for recycling, small items like these can actually cause trouble at a bottle return depot. Caps can fall in between the spaces on a conveyor belt and halt the entire recycling system. This creates delays in the return process and could cause a bottle depot to shut down while waiting for repairs to the machine.

Myth 3: Items can only be recycled one time.

The Truth? All materials can be recycled at least twice, however, plastic has the shortest recyclable span. Plastic breaks down faster than other materials which means it can usually only be recycled two or three times. Metal and glass can be infinitely recycled without losing quality.

Myth 4: Recycling uses more energy than it takes to create new products.

The Truth? The complete opposite is true. Recycled products use an average of 50% less energy than newly made items. For instance, recycling aluminum cans saves up to 95% of the energy it takes to make new cans.

Myth 5: Recycling is pointless because items thrown out decompose anyway.

The Truth? While most material decomposes over time, it typically takes far longer than a lifetime for this to happen. It can take plastic up to 1,000 years to decompose, glass up to 4,000 and aluminum up to 100 years. Recycling helps to avoid excess waste and saves time, energy, and resources right now.

Myth 6: The natural environment will do what it does whether you recycle or not.

The Truth? Recycling benefits the environment by helping preserve natural resources. When you recycle, you reduce the number of natural resources needed to make new items. Not only are you helping to save the habitat of wildlife, but fewer pollutants entering the atmosphere help maintain the air quality for future generations.  

Myth 7: There is a high contamination rate of recyclables in Canada.

The Truth? Though contamination does occur, these rates are declining due to educating the public about what to recycle and how. Local governments and recycling companies offer easy-to-follow guidelines to assist in everyone’s recycling journey.

Myth 8: Recycled products are of lesser quality than new items.

The Truth? As technology advances so does the quality of recycled products. Though in the past recycled items may have been susceptible to wear or broken down more easily, today you can find many products of high quality that offer both durability and sustainability.

Myth 9: If you put something in a recycle bin it will automatically get recycled.

The Truth? A return bottle depot might look through your recycled items to find you are wishcycling. Wishcycling is the process of throwing anything and everything in the recycling bin in hopes that it can be recycled. When you do this, you are impeding the recycling process in three ways:

  1. Wastes Time – The sorting machines can get clogged up due to items being put in that should never have gone in there. This wastes time for workers who need to either fix the issue or clean out toxic materials that could contaminate the entire load. Halting the process creates delays in processing for the consumer and the end user.
  1. Wastes and Costs Money – When a machine at a recycling plant gets clogged this can end up costing a lot of money to repair. Improper recycling or purposely dumping can also land you a fine in most large cities.
  1. Adds Waste – When non-recyclable items are thrown into the mix with recyclable goods, they risk contaminating the entire batch.

Myth 10: You should put your recyclables in plastic bags so the different materials are separated.

The Truth? Separating types of recyclables is terrific as it can help prevent contamination but putting them in plastic bags is a hindrance. Plastic bags can clog recycling equipment, shutting everything down and stopping the process of recycling for a period. It is better to place your recyclables on their own in their designated bins.


It is no myth that recycling offers many environmental benefits so ask us at Happy Can Bottle Depot about our specific bottle return depot programs to avoid any confusion. Recycling is great for businesses and households alike.

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