Environmental News

How To Recycle The Correct Way

Tips On What You Should And Shouldn’t Throw Into Your Curbside Recycling Bin


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Recycling is an important discussion topic because we are all doing it wrong.

There are certain items that we place into the recycling cart that are actually causing costly shut downs at recycling facilities all across the country because they jam machinery and even cause fires.

Hence, it’s crucial to take a few minutes out of your day and read up on your community recycling guidelines. Some recycling bins themselves even have a list of what you can or cannot recycle written right on them.

Recycling is a community effort. Yes, we pay to have our trash recycled, but we do it to help our environment—to keep unnecessary items from ending up in the landfill.

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Below are our tips on how to prepare for the recycling process as well as what you should and shouldn’t throw into the recycling bins to help the facility workers out.

We also encourage you to read your county’s rules and guidelines because they may be slightly different from this list. For example, in my county, they are currently not accepting glass containers—so it’s important to go on your local waste management website and double check their list of accepted recyclable products.

Before you Recycle:

  • Rinse food residue off of all recyclable items.
  • Crush recyclables like bottles, plastic jugs, and cans.
  • Flatten all cardboard boxes.
  • Remove metal components from plastic items.
  • Leave bottle caps and lids on your items.
  • Make sure that paper is dry.
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Do Not Bag Your Recyclables!

And Lastly, even though we all hate to see debris flying out onto the road, please place recyclable items loosely in your recycling bin. Bagging isn’t necessary, and it slows up workers’ abilities at the recycling center—bags will even jam machinery.


What You Should Recycle


Plastic water & soda bottles, dish soap bottles, shampoo bottles, laundry detergent jugs and some cleaning product containers that are recyclable (rinse out and leave the caps on).

Flattened cardboard boxes, cereal and food boxes, shoe boxes, beer boxes, milk and juice cartons, toilet paper rolls, and paper towel rolls.

Clean aluminum foil, aluminum cans, tin cans, steel cans and aluminum, tin or steel food pans that are not coated.

Paper bags, junk mail, catalogs, paperback books, office paper, magazines, envelopes, telephone books and newspapers.

Glass bottles and jars (lids too!)

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What You Should Not Recycle

Plastic Bags (they jam the processing equipment).

Plastic Straws (too lightweight and fail to get sorted).

Shredded Paper (too tiny to pass through sorting—it’s a nightmare for facility workers).

Clamshell Fruit Containers (they melt differently and turn into ash that contaminates other good recyclable plastic).

Cardboard With Grease Stains (like pizza boxes) or Moving Boxes With Oil Stains.

Oven Cookware (because some contain a coating).

Scrap Metal (they might oil residue or contain asbestos).

Drinking Glasses (they have a different composition and melting point compared to container glass).

Ceramics (they can’t be melted down).

Paper Towels (the fibers are too short to be recycled and contain dirt, cleaning chemicals and more unsanitary items).

Prescription Bottles (these are indeed recyclable, but recycling facilities can’t process these due to their size—they’re too small to get picked up by the sorting process on the conveyor belt).

Hangers (they jam machinery—just donate them to Goodwill or another thrift store of your choice).

Christmas Lights (too many different components).

Clothing (clogs the machinery—donate to goodwill or place them into the regular trash bin).

Batteries (when compressed by the collection truck or at the recycling facility, they can spark and cause a fire).

All Electronics like computers, printers, phones, radios, remote controls, etc. (they contain toxic materials like mercury, lead and other products that are harmful to the environment—even in the landfill).

Aerosol Cans (though the containers are metal, the pressurized contents can cause damage at the recycling facility).

Treated Wood (finished or painted wood cannot be burned and can also contaminate water).

Mirrors (they contain a reflective coating that simply can’t be recycled).

Pet Food Bags (they contain plastic layers to keep the food fresh).

Styrofoam (it’s 95% air, hard to clean because it’s porous and it would jam machinery).

Ice Cream Cartons (they contain a plastic lining to keep liquid in place if melted).

Yard Waste (you simply can’t recycle grass, leaves or other even garden hoses).

Free Printable For Kids!

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