What is the difference between a garbage can and a recycle bin?

What is the difference between a garbage can and a recycle bin?

July 2, 2019

Recently I sent an open records request to the City of Memphis asking them for the following information.

“What is the total poundage of recycle material for the last 3-month period picked up by the City? How much of this has been recycled and how much has gone into the general landfill? How has the recycled material been disposed of?”

About a month later I got a message that the requested information was not available, and my open records request was closed.

Most Memphis and Germantown residents have a garbage can and a recycle bin which is picked up by the cities. But because of international situations and economic factors, recyclable material properly collected is no longer marketable. Therefore, my question is what is happening to the material that has been collected as recycle material?

Most people want to do the right thing and do not want to litter our world and our city with trash. What can be done with our garbage that makes sense?

As for myself I put mostly the following items into my garbage and recycle bins.

  • Soft drink bottles, mineral water and fruit juice containers made from PETE plastic (polyethylene terephthalate)
  • Milk jugs, cleaning agents, laundry detergents, shampoo, washing and shower soap bottles, HDPE plastic (high density polyethylene).
  • Shopping bags, highly resistant sacks and wrappings made from LDPE plastic (low-density polyethylene)
  • There are other plastics such as PP (polypropylene, furniture, luggage toys etc) and such items as nylons and Fiberglas.

The 2 items I see the most of that are not recyclable are PS (polystyrene, carryaway food containers) and PVC (polyvinyl chloride, plastic packaging, bubble foil and food foils to wrap foodstuff). They are light weight, but they take up a lot of space in the garbage can.

What are other cities doing with this recycle problem? Here if some information from a recent article.


Philadelphia is now burning about half of its 1.5 million residents’ recycling material in an incinerator that converts waste to energy. In Memphis, the international airport still has recycling bins around the terminals, but every collected can, bottle and newspaper are sent to a landfill. And last month, officials in the central Florida city of Deltona faced the reality that, despite their best efforts to recycle, their curbside program was not working and suspended it. Those are just three of the hundreds of towns and cities across the country that have canceled recycling programs, limited the types of material they accepted or agreed to huge price increases.


What are Memphis and Germantown doing? The citizens in Shelby County need an answer to what is currently going on with our garbage and recycle material as the public wants to help keep our cities beautiful and clean. Does anyone have more information? I would like to know.

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