The 11 Most Important Recyclable Items

Not everything can be recycled, and with so many different schemes out there, it can be hard to know what to do with your waste items.

With a never-ending amount of trash building up in our landfill sites, it’s essential to know what to recycle. It might not seem that important, but every little bit helps.

I’ve put together this list, so by the end of this article, you’ll know what is recyclable and what isn’t.

What items are recyclable and non-recyclable?

First, what is recycling?

Recycling materials is the process of re-purposing waste items to cut down trash getting sent to landfill sites. It also allows us to recover natural materials.

So, with that definition, what items can we recycle, and what needs to go to the trash?

recycling bins

So, what can we recycle?

11 Recyclable Items

Like I said nowadays, it’s hard to know what you can and can’t recycle. Before I became an eco freek, I had no idea what I could recycle, and recycling companies don’t make it easy! So here’s a list of items you may not have known you can recycle:

1) Plastic Bags

Although it’s not commonly known plastic bags are recyclable, just not from the curbside, so how do you recycle plastic bags?

Because most roadside services won’t take plastic bags, we need to take them to a local drop off location. You may have noticed them before outside supermarkets.

plastic bag recycling bin

To recycle your old plastic bags take them to the shops with you, the ones you don’t reuse you can leave be at the drop off point.

You mustn’t send them to the standard recycling center; they end up getting stuck in the machines. The workers then have to turn everything off and remove the blockage.

2) Paper

Most paper can be recycled, even the glossy magazine paper. The only time you can’t recycle paper is if it’s been laminated but is paper biodegradable when laminated, find out.

Even paper envelops with plastic film can be recycled. Although it’s good practice to remove the plastic just in case the recycling companies might not take it.

stack of envelopes

If, like me, you get countless amounts of junk paper coming through the post. Well, there is a way to stop all the extra waste coming to your house.

An excellent place to start is catalog choice; it gives you the option to cancel catalogs coming to your home.

3) Plastic Bottles/Containers

Nearly all plastic bottles and containers are recyclable, but hopefully, you already knew that by now, especially if you’ve been reading my content.

The problem is different plastics have their own requirements when it comes to recycling.

plastic bottled recycling bin

From there, ring around your local recycling centers to find out what they accept. Luckily all plastic bottles can be recycled from the roadside.

But, when it comes to plastic containers, you might find an issue.

Lastly,make sure you wash them out, contaminated plastic will end up in landfill sites.

4) Metal Cans

Whether you’re recycling steel or aluminum cans, it can get recycled to no end. It can literately be used an infinite amount of times and made into different products.

aluminium cans being recycled

The most important thing to remember with aluminum cans is not to crush them.

It might feel like you’re making life easier, but they tend to fall out the sorter. They then end up in landfill sites; the very place we are trying to avoid.

5) Glass

Recycling glass bottles is the same as metals like steel. They can be recycled an infinite amount of times and into various glass containers.

Glass isn’t necessarily bad for the environment; It’s just glass isn’t biodegradable. Which means it increases the build-up of trash in landfill sites.

glass bottles in a landfill

Not all glass can be recycled, though.

The glass used in your windows is mixed with different chemicals making it non-recyclable. And it’s the same story with the treated glass we drink from.

6) Ink Cartridges

Due to the toxic chemicals inside ink cartridges, they shouldn’t go into your trash. You don’t want to release toxins into the planet.

Ink cartridges being recycled

The good thing is some businesses have drop off locations. The company will offer a take-back system; they will then recycle your old cartridges.

Some will even offer you a discount on your new ones.

7) Disposable Plates And Cups

I know the appeal of disposable plates and cups is the ability to chuck them in the trash. But, you shouldn’t, most of them can be recycled.

But, you need to wash them first (sorry)!

Plastic plates can go in with most of the other recycling items, but as I said, it has to be clean.

clean disposable plate

It’s best to check with local communities to see if they can be recycled, just in case.

Paper plates can be harder to recycle; you’ve probably noticed how grease sticks to them. If they’re soiled, they won’t make it to recycling. But, paper plates are compostable, slice it up, and leave it in your yard to decompose.

It will do wonders for your garden!

8) Household Batteries

The harsh material found in batteries causes massive amounts of damage to the environment.

Especially when it eventually starts to break down. California thinks it’s so bad they made it illegal to put them in the trash.

Battery recycling point

Luckily, they are getting easier to recycle; most local stores have a drop-off point inside.

9) Power Cords

In my house, I used to have containers full of old cables that I thought I needed. And to be honest, I didn’t know what to do with them.

A box full of cables

But, after a quick google search, I found several places that had a recycling program where I could take my old cables to be recycled.

10) Cardboard Boxes

Unsoiled cardboard boxes can get recycled in your curbside collection; the problems arise when the cardboard is dirty.

Soiled cardboard Boxes like soiled paper can’t get recycled due to contamination problems.

cardboard boxes recycling

If you have soiled cardboard boxes, your best option is to compost it in your garden/yard.

Remember that, not recycling old cardboard boxes is having terrible effects on our eco-system. Cutting down trees isn’t sustainable anymore.

11) Mobile Phones

Only 12.5 % of e-waste is being recycled, which is crazy, considering they’re made from so many different items that can get recycled:

  • Steel
  • Glass
  • Gold
  • Copper

They are special programs that will pay for your old phone. They’ll then take all the items that can be recycled; not a bad way to make some extra cash.

mining materials out of mobiles

Check online to where the closest place is to you.

What Is Not Recyclable?

Unfortunately, not everything is recyclable; here are a few items you need to pay attention to:

1) Lids And Caps

You might think that because the lid came with recyclable bottles, , it would mean you can recycle the cap. Well, that’s not the case.

Plastic caps left behind

Most caps are made from a different material, check the underneath of the cap to see if you can recycle them with the bottles.

2) Aerosol Cans

Just because some of them are made wit steel doesn’t mean you can recycle them. The harmful chemicals inside means recycling centers won’t take them.

aerosol spry

But, you could check with your communities’ specialized hazardous materials recycling center. If they don’t take them; you’ll need to stick them in the trash.

3) Diapers

They’re a nightmare item for many recycling facilities, and the people that work there, imagine them getting squeezed between cardboard.

Not a pretty picture, right?

Used diapers

Even clean ones aren’t recyclable. They’re made a mixture of materials:

  • Cloth
  • Paper
  • Plastic

Anything you think might contaminate the recycling process should be left in the trash. A good thing to remember is diapers are not compostable.

Don’t be leaving them in your garden, waiting for them to decompose.

4) Hazardous Containers

Due to the nature of the contamination, whether it’s glass or plastic, these containers should not be recycled.

Basically, anything that has writing saying:

  • Corrosive
  • Toxic
  • Poisonous
  • Ignitable

corrosive warning sign

Just like aerosol cans, you should take the containers to the hazardous materials recycling service.

They can instruct you on what to do with the containers.

5) Propane Cylinders

Although made with steel, the gas containers can not be recycled but can be reused.

Propane tanks being collected

You need to take them to your local gas suppliers and see if they will take them off your hands.

If not, try the center of the hazardous items; they might have an idea of what to do with empty gas bottles.

6) Clothes Hangers

It goes to show that just because somethings made from recyclable materials; it doesn’t mean you can recycle it. The issue comes because of it strange the shape.

wire clothes hanger

It often gets stuck in the machinery making the worker’s life hard. The excellent thing is you can take them back to stores to be reused.

7) Ceramics

Ceramics is unable to be recycled. And like glass can last 1000’s of years without breaking down, so what do you with them?

Old ceramics on display

If they’re not to beat up, you could donate them to charity shops, or goodwill centers.

If you cant, find a use for them in your yard/garden then the best options is to chuck them in the trash.

To Finish It Off

Many items, such as:

  • Paper
  • Glass bottles
  • Plastic Bottles

Are recyclable; it’s knowing how you recycle it that can be the tricky part. Remember to take the all caps and pieces of paper off bottles before you recycle them.

If you can’t recycle, see if you can put it in your compost heap in your garden. The last option should always be putting it in your trash.

If you want to help make the world a better place check out how to recycle batteries. Like always, if you have any questions, don’t forget to comment below.

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