It’s important to get the obvious food residue off of the cans, plastics or glass that you’re recycling. One reason is that trapped food becomes a breeding ground for mold and bacteria. Municipalities ask that you clean out the big food scraps, but they don’t necessarily expect or need you to catch every little food particle, which are cleaned out during the recycling process at the plant. It is recommended that you rinse out the recyclables with just plain cold water (so as not to use up too much energy on this process) to help the recycling process at the plant be more efficient.
Although every recycling plant is different, typically food particles on things like plastic and glass are okay. For plastic, any food contaminants are null during the process of melting the plastic into pellets. I’m sure it’s similar for glass.
For paper products however, food contamination cannot simply be burned off, as that would ruin the paper, so throwing a greasy piece of paper in with the rest could be a problem.
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