Is recycling a myth?
I've been recycling everything from candy wrappers, juice container tops (under the tops), frozen vegetable bags - turning them inside out and scrubbing them, etc.
I called the local garbage/recycling center here and asked about this and that. The typical response was "throw it in the garbage". Is recycling a myth?
Recycling is not a myth. It can make a huge difference in the use of energy to make new raw metal, plastic, and paper. However, you did find the ugly underside of the antequated waste management system. Throwing separated, cleaned recyclables into one bin leads the hauler to treat all that material the same way, to send it to a Materials Recycling Facility that sorts it all again. In the process, your cleaned material is mixed up with dirty or "contaminated" material.
The solution, I believe, is to keep materials separated and get them to the specialized recyclers that will convert them into useful commodities.
It's time to break out of our 1950s era garbage collection mindset. There is too much value lost and the price for the environment is too high.
Your best bet is to put only what your recycling provider specifically lists as acceptable items into your recycling bin. Otherwise, you risk contaminating the entire load of recyclables.
My local recycling provider doesn't accept any kind of plastic bags (they jam up the machinery that separates the mixed recycling). They also don't take candy wrappers (see https://earth911.com/food/recycling-mysteries-candy-wrappers/).
The next step is to find out if there's a center near you where you can take the other materials that aren't allowed in your recycling bin. Or someplace you can send those items.
Have you tried the Earth911 Recycling Search https://search.earth911.com/? (Note that the recycling business is constantly changing, so you might need to call to confirm any results you get before you make a trip.)
Also, check out TerraCycle's free programs for hard-to-recycle waste: https://www.terracycle.com/en-US/brigades?locale=en-US.
Thanks for recycling!
One thing to be aware of is that many manufacturers do not design their products/packaging with recyclability in mind. You can take power over the situation by choosing products with more sustainable packaging.
You mentioned candy wrappers, which are rarely accepted in curbside programs. Well, if you buy candy packaged in paper boxes (much more commonly accepted curbside) or buy in bulk at stores, you're telling manufacturers to change their packaging or lose a customer.
You can likely find a "more recyclable" packaging for any type of consumer product.