6 Things You Probably Recycle But Aren’t Actually Recyclable


Do you recycle? If so, that is great. You are doing wonderful things for our environment and our futures. However, there are some items that are often recycled that don’t actually belong in your recyclable bin.

Here are some items you should stop recycling. If you don’t want to toss them in the trash, either stop using these products or find out where you can properly get rid of them.


1. Takeout containers

takeout container

Okay, most takeout containers are plastic or paper and should be ideally thrown in the recycling bin. But, you shouldn’t be tossing containers that have food in them, even if its just a little bit of grease. This can damage or contaminate your other recyclable materials and make them unusable. Same goes for napkins or paper towels. If you used them to wipe up food, you can’t recycle them. Try using washable cloth napkins instead.

2. Plastic bags and bottle caps

plastic bags
Wikimedia Commons

These two things are plastic and you think you should be able to recycle them. Wrong. You can recycle the plastic bottle, but the caps are usually made of different material that can’t be recycled. Switch to aluminum cans instead. Plastic grocery bags aren’t recyclable either. Switch to reusable cloth bags when you grocery shop.


3. Wire hangers

wire hangers

Many recycling centers are not equipped to deal with wire. Keep some old wire hangers around to unclog sinks or tubs or ask your local dry cleaner if they can use them.

4. Ceramics and glass

broken mug

Unfortunately, ceramics like coffee mugs are not generally accepted by recyclers. Same goes for certain types of broken glass because they could harm workers. If you are unsure, call your local recycling facility and see if you can drop off certain items.

5. Shredded or colored paper

shredded paper
Wikimedia Commons

Shredded paper can be too difficult to sort. Instead, use it as stuffing for a craft project. Same goes for colored paper. The dye in the paper might contaminate other items so it is often not accepted either.

6. Styrofoam


It cannot be recycled and it doesn’t biodegrade, so please stay away from using styrofoam. Many restaurants are getting rid of it in their takeout containers and cups.

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