McPherson County sent 7.5 million pounds of material to be recycled in 2018 and McPherson Area Solid Waste Utility General Manager John Hawk said residents are more involved in recycling than other areas around Kansas.

"We have a very high participation level," Hawk said. "It is very good."

Feedback from the trash and recycling processors has also been positive in regards to the correct items being sent to each facility.

"The people in McPherson County have been particularly good about following the guidelines for recycling," Hawk praised.

While MASWU provides information to people about what items can and cannot be recycled, it is difficult to ensure everyone knows they rules on every material.

Plastic containers and lids or caps from bottles, milk jugs and tubs are accepted in recycling, along with paper products like newspaper, cardboard, paper bags and even junk mail. Glass of all colors and metal items made of steel, tin and aluminum — with the exception of aluminum foil — can also be recycled.

Plastic bags, PVC pipes, bottles for automotive products and garden hoses are not recyclable. Pyrex, light bulbs, mirrors and window glass should also be placed with the regular trash.

Food scraps, fabric, clothing, yard waste and leaves should also be left out of the recycle bin.

Paper items that have touched food — plates, cups or towels — cannot be recycled. The same goes for drink pouches, milk cartons and pizza boxes.

"The reason for that is the residual grease that would get into the pizza box," Hawk explained.

Other paper items that cannot be recycled include construction paper, hanging folders, tissue paper and gift wrap.

Some materials are recyclable, but should not be placed in the recycle bins.

"A lot of people ask us if is styrofoam recyclable and the answer is it is, but it's not a part of what we do because you'd have to accumulate so much of it to ship it off," Hawk explained.

Besides sorting items correctly, there are a few other things residents can do to aid recycling efforts.

"We see a big rise in cardboard around the holidays," Hawk said. "...Sometimes people don't break down their cardboard and it would be helpful if they did."

While placing different kinds of recyclables inside each other may save space, it can cause a headache down the road.

"That's a problem for the processor because it's hard to then separate what was inside," Hawk said. "It's not a problem for us so much, because we're just collecting it and shipping it off, but it can be an issue for the processor."

There is a recycling drop-off center located at the MASWU Transfer Station at 1431 17th Ave. in McPherson and other drop-off sites in the incorporated cities throughout the county. Drop-off locations and hours of operations, along with more information about recycling options, can be found at http://maswu.org/recycling.html.

Contact Patricia Middleton by email at pmiddleton@mcphersonsentinel.com or follow her stories on Twitter at @MiddleSentinel.