Q. I’m tired of spending ages trying to get the lime wedges out of Corona bottles after I have friends over. Can I just recycle the bottles with the fruit slices still inside? - Julia, TX

A. Slovenly recycling isn’t something we usually advocate, but we also don’t want you, our brave little treehugger, to have negative feelings toward either your recycling bin or your drink of choice. Beer and recycling, we feel, are both very important in life.

So, although it’s always best to send a container to the recycling plant as empty and clean as possible, we’ll practice full disclosure and say that yes, you can chuck your bottles in the recycling bin, lime and all. They’ll be effectively recycled even if you leave the lime/lemon slices at the bottom. Same goes for that stubborn coating of crusty peanut butter in your glass peanut butter jar. Get it as clean as you can, but don’t spend hours washing it out—you’ll only waste water. 

Small bits of organic waste aren’t the problem when it comes to contamination of recyclables. When glass recyclables are taken away by the hauling company, the first thing that happens to them is they get sent to a glass-cleaning facility, which is totally equipped to deal with the odd lime wedge.

What’s far worse is contamination by another industrial material, like ceramics, window glass, or metal, all of which can really do a number on a batch of recyclables when they’re melted down and made into new bottles. So try to stop jamming shards of your grandmother’s antique china vase into your beer bottles, okay? 

Cheers to summer. Summer days are gone too soon, so drink up before Corona season passes you by.

Story by Tobin Hack. This article originally appeared in Plenty in August 2008.

Copyright Environ Press 2008