What Is Recyclable?

Recycling is something that we are focusing on more as a society in order to better protect our planet, but there are lots of questions when it comes to thinking about what is recyclable and what is not. So we figured we better tackle the subject and give you some info on what is recyclable and a little info on what isn’t!

As with anything regarding our waste, it’s not simple

Recycling is a complicated issue. Which seems odd in itself. You’d think that something that is so important would have been simplified to make it easy for everyone. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

There are some things that are not recyclable and that will not be accepted for curbside collection, despite the info on the packet saying the coffee cup you’re holding from Starbucks is totally recyclable.

This can be due to the info printed on the outside of the paper cup, only being in relation to the paper bit of the cup – not the plastic insides that stop the coffee from burning your hands. And this is just one example.

There is lots of confusion surrounding what can be recycled and what can’t, which makes it really difficult for people to recycle to their best ability.

There are lots of different regulations, depending on where you live, and it is understandable to be unsure about the situation.

However, we are here to help to clear up some of this confusion and ensure that you are able to recycle everything that you can.

In this article we are going to provide you with a list of things that are recyclable, to eliminate any confusion that you might have when it comes to recycling.

What Do I Do With Items That Aren’t Accepted?

The first thing that you might be wondering is what you are supposed to do with things that are not accepted for curbside collection.

There are places that you can go to and drop off your rubbish that is not collected at home, you just have to find a drop-off location that is near you.

What is Recyclable?

There are so many materials that we come across in our day-to-day lives, but not all of them can be recycled.

Understanding what can and can’t be recycled is essential if you want to ensure that you are recycling to the best of your ability, and this is why we are going to provide you with a list of things that can be recycled below.

To start off, we are going to look at things that will be collected curbside.

Recycling for Curbside Collection

We are going to tell you all about the different materials that can be recycled for curbside collection below, but you should be aware of these simple recycling tips first:

  • Always ensure that everything you are recycling is empty, clean, and dry
  • Place items loose in the bin without putting them in a bag

Mail, Junk Mail, and Paper – Window envelopes and glossy papers are fine

Magazines and Newspapers – Glossy pages and sticker ads are fine

Cardboard Boxes – Boxes should be flattened and the tape attached is fine

Plastic Bottles – Water and soda bottles are extremely valuable when it comes to recycling

Aluminum Cans – Aluminum cans can be back on the shelf in as little as 60 days

Food Cans – Tin and steel cans are high-value items, but they need to be rinsed

Paperboard Boxes – Pantry item boxes are all made of highly recyclable paperboard

Glass Bottles and Jars –  Unless stated as a non-accepted item, glass is acceptable.

Juice and Milk Cartons – Cartons are made of a specially coated paperboard that is accepted in recycling streams.

Items That Go in the Trash

The items that we are about to talk about are those that are commonly found to be placed in the recycling when this should not be the case.

These items need to go in the trash, as putting them in the recycle bin can damage recycling sorting equipment.

This only adds to the cost of recycling, and it can create dangerous situations for recycling facility staff.

Shell Food Containers – Berry containers or food containers are often contaminated with food residue, and they cannot be recycled.

Garden Hose – The reason why you cannot recycle a garden hose is that it can easily tangle and break recycling equipment.

Metal Chains – Chains can also get tangled and break recycling equipment.

Wood/Lumber/Metal – Construction materials cannot be recycled.

Hazardous Materials – Any hazardous materials, like paint, pesticides, fertilizer, or their containers should be taken to household hazardous waste collection facilities. 

Propane Tanks – These are very dangerous for a variety of reasons, and should be taken back to a vendor.

Drinking Glasses – Even though glass is recyclable, drinking glasses and window glass panes are typically not accepted.

Wire Hangers – Both wire and plastic hangers cannot be recycled and should be placed in the trash.

Wrapping Paper and Gift Bags – Wrapping paper is often coated with foil, glitter, or other items, making it unrecyclable and suitable for the trash. Only sustainable wrapping paper options, like craft paper or newspaper can be recycled.

Ceramic Dishes – Dishes, plates, bowls, and other ceramic items may have an extended life if taken to a reuse store, otherwise they belong in the trash.

Tissues – The tissues themselves should go in the trash, even if they are clean. Used tissues always go in the trash. Once your box is empty, you can recycle the paperboard box.

Items That Need to Be Recycled Separately

The following items that we are going to mention are those that are valuable for recycling, but they are not recycled at curbside collection.

For such items, you will need to find a drop-off location, where you will be able to take these items for recycling.

Plastic Grocery Bags – Plastic grocery bags can get caught in recycling equipment and cause downtime, which is why you should take them back to your local grocery store.

You can also get cloth, reusable grocery bags to reduce the use of plastic bags.

Batteries – Batteries can cause fires in recycling trucks and facilities, so they need to be recycled at a drop-off location.

Styrofoam Packaging – Dense styrofoam packaging can be recycled if you take it to a drop-off location. However, packing peanuts are not usually accepted.

Shredded Paper – Shredded paper can lead to unsafe dust particles at the recycling sorting facility, so it is not suitable for curbside pickup. 

Light Bulbs – Various types of light bulbs are recyclable but they need to be dropped off at a participating retailer.

Food Waste – You should never put food waste in your recycle bin, but you can try composting it instead.

Clothing – Clothes can be reused or recycled into a variety of products, but must be taken to a drop-off location.

The problems with Recycling

The issue with moving to a more sustainable future is often complicated by the almost ridiculous amount of red tape that surrounds pretty much everything we do. Even our junk!

Capitalism as it is currently applied to the green economy means that recycling is a competing service. That means that it’s run by for-profit organizations that seek to make as much profit out of it as possible.

Ultimately, no matter how hard we try we can’t guarantee that what we think we are recycling is actually being recycled and not sent straight to landfills.

the simple solution here is to reduce as much single-use plastic as you can. Use and reuse, and try and throw away as little waste as you can. Obviously, we all produce, consume and make waste. But just keeping it as simple as possible is the best way to keep on top of what is going where.

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