Our community supports recycling and supplies each home with a large recycling bin which is picked up and emptied every other week. It has always been our practice to clean (of previous contents) all recyclable material particularly since the bin sits around for two weeks. “Cleaning” usually just consists of rinsing with hot water which means that we have to allow the faucet to flow until the hot water starts to come out so we can rinse the recyclable container. Rinsing with cold water just doesn’t cut it. I’m wasting water waiting for the hot water and wasting gas to heat the water in the first place. So… What’s the net effect on the planet? Is it more beneficial to continue the recycling or just stop recycling and let the recyclables go out with the trash to some landfill somewhere or, gag, not rinse them at all?

Inquiring minds want to know.

fill containers with cold water and let sit in the sink, food residue will soften. when you have a later kitchen sink hot water use (washing dishes or to get hot water in the pipes before turning dishwasher on [ much better quality wash] ) then rinse them out clean.

What are you rinsing out that won’t come off with a good blast of cold water? I don’t think you need them to be scrupulously clean, I just give cans, bottles etc a quick swill out and lob 'em in the recycling bin, which sits in our porch and I’ve never noticed a niff from it, even in summer while the spot is sweltering for a fortnight between collections.
If you have something stubborn, and can’t get or bring yourself to wipe it a bit, put a squirt of detergent in it and fill it with water, leave for a few hours or overnight, and you will find most of whatever floating in the water for you to pour out.

If you wash your dishes and plates by hand, just use the water at the end.

Also, whether or not it’s beneficial in net to use clean hot water to wash them probably depends on a number of factors - for example, the energy saved by recycling metals is typically greater than that saved by recycling glass, which in turn is typically greater than that saved by recycling plastics.

I leave items in the left over dish water. I can’t think of too many items that don’t just rinse out quickly with cold water. The only reason to rinse glass and metal is for the smell. Any residue gets destroyed when it’s recycled.

Every recycling program I’ve heard of doesn’t want you to clean every morsel out. Just enough so that the bulk of it isn’t food waste. Although I do understand your concern if it involves getting ants and other pests. Otherwise a quick rinse should do it.

As far as the absolute utility of recycling, results are mixed and I’m sure it’s been covered on SDMB. IIRC, glass and aluminum/metals are worth it, paper and plastics are not so much a net benefit.

Our county just tweaked its laws on solid waste management. Not because it thinks it’s saving the planet, but because we’re running out of landfill space. So from an economic standpoint, it’s cheaper to recycle than to haul it farther and farther out to new landfill space.

And, to the original question, the county director of solid waste management said (specifically concerning peanut butter jars) “just empty them and rinse them the best you can.”

My thanks to all who have replied. A little more information is perhaps in order. Usually the only items requiring hot water are those that leave a greasy or oily residue. Chinese food containers are a good example of that as would be peanut butter jars. Responder Kunilou reiterated what was explained from solid waste management and truthfully, we’ve never inquired of our recycler how these things should be handled. Perhaps a phone call is in order. Really, about half of what we recycle can be rinsed with a quick shot of cold water and a good shake to get everything in suspension.

Inquiring minds now know.

P.S. Since I’m new to this forum I just noticed the boxes below where I’m now typing marked POST QUICK REPLY and GO ADVANCED. The former would seem to be self-explanatory but the latter has me puzzled.

Advanced has more editing options, and you can preview your post before you put it up. It’s especially helpful if you’re using tags for things like formatting, quotes, and spoilers.

BTW, can you (generally) recycle the tops to plastic bottles. I am not sure what numbers my recycler takes, and their website is not helpful last I checked (Waste Management).

IMO, the SDMB hasn’t always been great on the subject - it’s often insisted that only metals are cost/energy effective to recycle, which (when stated as baldly as that) is just incorrect.

Just curious, how do you take a bath or shower? Do you jump in right away, before it heats up?

And by the way, when disposing of your recyclable bottles and jars, don’t leave the lids on. They can cause the container to explode at the processing facility.

cities and counties have closed their landfills. it is less costly to recycle anything recyclable than to have it shipped possibly hundreds of miles to a garbage dump.

We pay for heat in our apartment and my b/f feels that it is a waste to rinse the bottles and such before we bring them to recycle. We pay for our hot water but I rather not have the smell and the mess at the dump ( where there is a separate bin for recyclables) Things such as sour cream and milk and jelly need to be rinsed. And it is a small town for us. And even tho what has been said is true it gets cleaned elsewhere the dump guy where we go is crazy and everybody knows everybody and I don’t need to be the girl that doesn’t rinse out out her stuff. But point being yes you do waste more money by using hot water to rinse out your stuff but I feel it is good manners to do so. So I use cold water when I can and things such peanut butter that won’t leak do my best and give up.

I don’t rinse!

The little bits of stuff left just get eaten by bugs, which then become food for the songbirds. And I like having those birds around my yard to watch & listen to.

So I don’t rinse out recycling.