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Ridwell Wants To Take The Confusion Out Of Trash

by Rudy Sanchez on 06/15/2021 | 2 Minute Read

Sure, there are plenty of ways to decrease the amount of single-use waste we consume in our lives. Some companies have certainly taken strides to make packaging that can get easily recycled, or better still, biodegradable or home compostable. 

Nonetheless, there's plenty of waste you can't recycle, often because your curbside service won't accept it. One Seattle-based wants to make it easier for consumers to recycle items that would otherwise end up in the landfill.

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Ridwell was born out of founder Ryan Metzger’s frustration with looking for a location that would accept used batteries. Metzger, with his son Owen in tow, started Owen’s List, a sort of “recycling carpool" where they would collect items from neighbors that their local curbside service wouldn't take. The idea took off and has grown both geographically and in the objects gathered. 

Today, Ridwell goes beyond the batteries father and son originally picked up. Now, they collect plastic bags, cling film, bubble wrap, mailing shippers, light bulbs, clothing, linen, fabric scraps, wine corks, electronics, styrofoam packing peanuts, and more, depending on your zip code and level of service. Ridwell also picks up objects that can spend forever in the garage, like kids’ outgrown clothing. Those hard to dispose of pieces of plastic packaging get recycled and used kids’ clothing gets donated or otherwise used by charities.

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Customers of the service receive bags to separate their unwanteds, and Ridwell picks them up and safely recycles, upcycles, or otherwise disposes of those items. There’s no guessing what goes in which bin, and Ridwell customers can feel confident that they’ve sufficiently disposed of their trash or that their no longer useful items can find a new purpose elsewhere.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the recycling rate in the US is about 32 percent, and according to Waste Management, a waste collection and environmental services firm, the average contamination rate of collected recyclables is 25 percent. That trash, like food or organic waste, can ruin otherwise recyclable items in the stream. And when that happens, it ends up heading for a landfill, so you're better off finding a service for those undesirables that could use a second chance.

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