Thornton: The shifting perspective of the Scottsdale recycling narrative

Our feature article last month coined, “Economy of Conservation” generated a few questions and comments from our readership regarding what can and cannot be recycled nowadays.

Terrance Thornton

A major takeaway from the article was the idea of environmental sustainability can only be grained through economic profitability — and due to this fact the American recycling narrative will likely change.

Words like “contaminate” and “wish-cycling” will become apart of the American recycling narrative, experts say, ultimately creating a better global recycling marketplace.

But without the incentive for profit, recycling and other things we accept as virtuous endeavors — things like searching for an answer to eradicate cancer or the pursuit of finding a cure for AIDS — would simply not exist.

For Scottsdale resident, Toni Brewer, she found the article and some of those themes a little alarming.

“I found your article on the recycling program in Scottsdale very enlightening and, in fact, a little scary!” she said. “We are headed for some tough times for Waste Management if changes aren’t made — and soon. It’s only a matter of time before it hits us all in the pocket book where it always seems to have the biggest impact.”

I agree, but talking with folks at different levels of the recycling process, I am confident a solution will be found — that’s what we do as Americans, right? We innovate and find solutions to complex problems.

But Ms. Brewer asks if we could provide a comprehensive list of what is actually recyclable and what is not. So, to get that question answered, I contacted Kelly Corsette, who serves as the public affairs director at the city of Scottsdale.

This is what can be recycled:

  • Beverage cans and clean aluminum foil
  • Milk, juice and ice cream containers
  • Corrugated cardboard boxes, dry food boxes such as cereal, cake mix and cracker containers (please remove liner), shoe boxes, pizza boxes, empty paper towel and toilet tissue tubes
  • Glass food and beverage containers (clear, green or amber)
  • All magazines and telephone books
  • Food cans made of steel or tin, aerosol cans (empty only please) and metal bottle caps
  • Computer and writing paper, paper beverage cups, junk mail, brown paper grocery bags, file folders
  • All plastic cups and containers, plastic bottles, jugs, jars, yogurt containers, cottage cheese containers, margarine and whipped topping tubs, plastic “clamshell” food containers and disposable plastic cups, including plastic bottle caps

This is what cannot be recycled:

  • No folding chair frames
  • No foil juice bags
  • No packing material, bar soap or detergent boxes, wax / plastic liners
  • No light bulbs, window glass, mirror glass, ceramics or pottery
  • No hardbound books
  • No other metals, paint cans or toxic materials
  • No bags or rubber bands
  • No facial or toilet tissue, paper towels, paper plates, napkins, diapers, pet food bags
  • No plastic bags, motor oil or pool chemical containers or styrofoam
  • Clear plastic bags can be used to contain shredded paper.

Ms. Brewer says while the information is available online at the city’s website — — it’s always good to have a reminder in the printed form.

“Although we’ve been recycling for many years now, we all become complacent and a simple but informative ‘reminder’ list would help bring home the points made in your Nov. 1 article,” she asked. “Yes, this information is already available on the City of Scottsdale website, but reinforcement can’t hurt.”

We agree, and hopefully, this helps a few households do a better job of identifying and recycling recovered materials.

Regardless of the political temperament of the day, the Scottsdale Independent is here for you. So, what can your team of award-winning journalists get answered for you?

Independent Newsmedia Arizona Managing Editor Terrance Thornton can be contacted at

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