top of page
  • Writer's pictureAlizée CCM

What is recycling contamination? 什么是回收污染?

Oops! I threw it in the wrong bin!

糟了! 我扔错了垃圾箱!

Did you ever wonder what happened to the greasy pizza box that was accidentally thrown in the blue recycling bin? Didn’t it make to the recycling center?


You were really tempted this morning to put that half-eaten yogurt in the recycling bin by the sidewalk. It was almost empty anyway, right?

今天早上真的很想把那只吃了一半的酸奶扔进路边的可回收垃圾箱中。 反正盒子快空了,对吧?

No matter how much you want to help with recycling, we advise you to think twice before throwing that yogurt away. Here’s why:

无论您想为回收提供多少帮助,我们建议您在扔掉酸奶之前都要三思。 原因如下:

One of the key challenges that companies and individuals at various levels have been grappling with is recycling contamination.


Recycling contamination occurs when


the wrong material is placed in a specific type of recycling bin or simply there’s a mix of materials in one type of bin.


objects are not properly thrown away.


In the two cases above, the culprit is food waste. Containers and boxes that have been used to hold food are usually designated for landfill, unless the food waste in these containers have been thoroughly cleaned out.

在上述两种情况中,罪魁祸首是食物浪费。 通常我们将盛装食物的容器和盒子一般认作干垃圾,最终送往焚烧场;除非这些容器中的食物垃圾已被彻底清除

Another contaminant to be aware of is plastic bags. Check that the recycling bin actually accepts plastic bags before throwing them away.

要注意的另一种污染物是塑料袋。 丢弃塑料袋之前,请检查垃圾箱其是否确实能接受塑料袋。

Items like shrink wrap, Ziploc bags, etc. are not all supposed to be placed in recycling bins⎯it depends on the specific recycling program in your community. For Shanghai residents, plastic bags are thrown in the residual waste (gray) bins.

压缩包装,Ziploc袋等之类的物品都不应该全部放置在回收箱中,这取决于您所在社区如何回收。 对于上海居民,可将塑料袋丢入灰色的干垃圾箱。

The other plastic item that can be a contaminant is plastic bottles, along with other various carton types. Plastic containers are generally marked by a triangular symbol of chasing arrows with a number in the middle to indicate what type of plastic has been used to make this item.

其他可能的污染物包括塑料瓶,以及其他各种纸箱。 塑料容器通常由带箭头的三角形符号标记,中间带有一个数字,以区分塑料材质

While various plastic bottles and containers make it to the sorting center, at that point some may get rejected. This decision is made by the local sorting and recycling company. Generally, #1 and #2 are the most accepted types for recycling, with the plastic types being polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and high-density polyethylene (HDPE or PE-HD) respectively. Plastic bottles are contaminants in the sense that putting the wrong plastic types in the recycling bin may slow down recycling processes.

当各种各样的塑料瓶和容器到达分拣中心,有些时候可能会被拒收。 该决定由当地的分类和回收公司做出。 通常,#1和#2是回收率最高的类型,塑料类型分别是聚对苯二甲酸乙二醇酯(PET)和高密度聚乙烯(HDPE或PE-HD)。 塑料瓶在某种意义上说是污染物,因为将错误的塑料类型放入回收箱可能会减慢回收过程。

In Shanghai, the sorting guidelines allow you to throw most plastic bottles in the blue recycling bin, but whether they make it through the sorting process depends on the local sorting center. Remember to empty out and give the items a good rinse before discarding!

在上海,我们可将大多数塑料瓶扔到可回收垃圾箱中,但是塑料瓶是否通过分拣过程还要取决于当地的分拣中心。 切记清空并冲洗一下再扔

If the plastic bottle previously contained hazardous waste, placing it in the hazardous waste bin would be safer. When in doubt, we suggest also reaching out to your local trash sorter/collector.

如果塑料瓶曾装有危险废物,则将其放在有害垃圾箱中会更安全。 如有疑问,我们建议你也联系当地有关人员咨询。

A worker sorts plastic bottles at a recycling centre on the outskirts of Wuhan, Hubei province, China. Photograph: Jie Zhao/Corbis/Getty Images

For glass bottles like wine or beer bottles, the glass part can be placed in the blue recycling bin after a good rinse. Although metal caps are not known to be readily recyclable, they can be placed in recycling bins in Shanghai. It’s best to put them together with or inside another metal container so they don’t get lost during the ride to the sorting center.📷

对于葡萄酒或啤酒瓶这样的玻璃瓶,可以将玻璃冲洗干净后放入可回收垃圾箱。 尽管金属盖尚不容易回收,但可以将其放在上海的回收箱中。 最好将它们与另一个金属容器放在一起或放在另一个金属容器中,以免在运往分拣中心的过程中混乱。

Other types of contaminants include frozen food containers, bio-hazardous waste (e.g. human fluid), hazardous waste (e.g. paint, pesticides), loose shredded paper and brightly colored paper.


Actual food waste goes into the “wet” trash (brown) bins in Shanghai, while hazardous waste is designated for the red bin. Other non-recyclable solid waste can be placed in the residual waste (gray) bin.

真正食物垃圾进入上海的棕色“湿”垃圾桶,而有害垃圾被指定为红色垃圾桶。 可以将其他不可回收的固体废物放入灰色干垃圾箱中。

Why is trash sorting and recycling so important?


It does seem a little unnecessary to go through so much trouble. In the end, a lot of these items can be recycled anyway, and wouldn’t it be better to attempt to recycle than not?

经历这么多麻烦看上去真没必要。 说到底其中很多物品都可以回收利用,都尝试回收的话不是更好吗?

There are a few things to consider that may result from recycling contamination.


One is that with too much mixing of trash, at a certain point the recycling process is not possible anymore. The cost involved in extracting the right recyclable materials from the mix of materials is too high, so therefore some recycling providers would rather choose to let the whole lot go to landfill instead.

其一是垃圾混合过多,到了一定程度,回收过程将不再可行。 从混合材料中提取合适的可回收材料所涉及的成本太高,因此一些回收服务提供商宁愿选择将整个堆放场填埋。

Those plastic bags that slip into recycling bins? They get snagged in the machinery and cause a lot of trouble for workers to remove the bags. In addition, some items aren’t supposed to go through the machine and cause the machine to break down. The market value of the materials being recycled is also degraded when there is contamination present. And we also have to recognize that this whole recycling process is a business with real people working in the centers. Hazardous and bio-hazardous waste can be dangerous to the workers who are exposed to the trash.


While all this information may seem daunting, don’t give up yet!


A woman throws at a waste sorting site in Shanghai. Residents face penalties for using the wrong bins. Photograph: Aly Song/Reuters

Certain things that you can do to contribute to the recycling effort are: communicate, concentrate and clean. Help spread more awareness of what recycling contamination is. Let your friends know the next time you finish a box of pizza together. Concentrate on what you are throwing away, remember that not all recyclables go in the same bin! Once you have determined that you can recycle the bottle or container in your hand, don’t forget to give it a little rinse. Helping get rid of the food waste inside goes a long way in making sure the item doesn’t end up in a landfill.

您可以为回收工作做出贡献的是:传播信息、关注垃圾分类以及清洁。 帮助传播更多有关再循环污染的知识。 下次一起扔批泡面盒时让你的朋友知道这个信息。 关注您要扔掉的东西,请记住,并非所有可回收物品都应放在同一个垃圾箱中! 确定可以手中的瓶子或容器是可回收垃圾时,请不要忘记冲洗一下。 帮助消除内部的食物浪费在确保食品不会被填埋方面大有帮助。

Be a Hero!


Still unclear about all these trash sorting guidelines? Feiy and Zer’0 Waste Shanghai teamed up recently to release Trash Heroes”, a board game which helps players understand about trash sorting in a more fun and exciting way.

还不知道用哪个垃圾分类指南吗? Feiy和Zer’0 Waste Shanghai最近联手发行了一款棋盘游戏“垃圾分类英雄",可帮助玩家以更有趣和令人兴奋的方式了解垃圾分类。

Grab some of your friends or colleagues to play and become better “Trash Heroes”!


More info about “Trash Heroes”:




bottom of page