It seems harmless enough: There's a recycling bin at your local coffee shop or office, and you think, "What could possibly be the harm in throwing in a dirty napkin or plastic fork with recyclable cans and bottles?" Turns out, a huge deal of harm. According to The New York Times, buyers of recyclables will reject a whole load if it's more than .5% contaminated. Small amounts of contaminants like that fork and dirty napkin add up, and they can cause an entire load of recyclable material to be turned away from a recycling facility and sent to the landfill instead.
ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION