COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — Recycling can keep precious resources out of landfills. It can also be a headache for cities when it isn’t done correctly. According to Lisa Thomas-Cutts, executive director of nonprofit organization Keep Columbus Beautiful, the three most common recycling mistakes in Columbus are putting plastic bags, food waste and diapers in recycling bins.

Some residents in Columbus stuff plastic bags into their recycling bins to be recycled with everything else. Others put their recyclable items in plastic bags as they would with regular trash. Plastic bags are recyclable, but not through the Columbus, Georgia Public Works Department. Thomas-Cutts said they can be taken to stores such as Publix.

Anything with food in it needs to be cleaned before being recycled.

“Some people, if there’s a little stuff, like residue, like little crumbs and stuff left over, they don’t rinse it off,” Thomas-Cutts said.

Sometimes, Public Works even encounters larger chunks of food mixed in with recyclables. Thomas-Cutts suggested that people assume recycling centers are equipped to deal with it. But this places an unnecessary burden on the people who process recyclables.

Thomas-Cutts shared other recycling tips. She said that when recycling paper, it isn’t necessary to remove staples. Additionally, paper can be recycled even if it’s been written on with a pen or pencil. Wrapping paper, however, is not accepted due to dyes, glitter and other components it can contain.

It isn’t necessary to remove labels from cans or bottles. But in Columbus, you should remove bottlecaps before placing them in a recycling bin.

Thomas-Cutts said Public Works accepts plastics one through seven.

Public Works stopped accepting glass because it costed the city too much to collect due to its weight.

“But if you have glass that you want to recycle, you can drop it off,” Thomas-Cutts said. “There’s a drop-off point at the front of the recycling center, which is on Pine Grove.”

Columbus, Georgia’s main recycling center, which Thomas-Cutts was referring to, is located at 8001 Pine Grove Way. There are also other drop-off points at these addresses:

  • Georgia Welcome Center

1751 Williams Road

  • Cooper Creek Park

4816 Milgen Road

  • Victory Drive Site

25 22nd Ave. (across from Carl Gregory behind the Summit)

If you are not sure if you can recycle something, Public Works provides an app that you can use to look it up and see if it’s accepted, Thomas-Cutts said.

“Recycling is important right now, with all the environmental issues going on, and you want to be good stewards of the community,” she said.

Thomas-Cutts encourages citizens to find more information about recycling by calling Keep Columbus Beautiful at (706) 225-4008 or by visiting its website.