Of course one of the first things you want to do in today’s world is to help take care of our environment. But, in the process, are you cramming some things you shouldn’t into your recycling bin? We’ve put together a few things that you should never place there and a few you should that you might not have thought about.

First, always check with your local regulations to see what’s being accepted and what’s not. The rules may not be exactly the same where you are compared to others.

What Can’t be Recycled

1) Paper Cups

The plastic layer on paper cups is not recyclable. It is made from wax, and wax can damage the recycling system. It won’t separate from the paper and that contaminates the paper to produce a lower-quality paper the recycling folks don’t want.

Yes, some facilities can properly recycle some plastic cups if the coating is not polyethylene, but we doubt you’ll be able to tell the difference. It’s better to be safe and simply toss the cups into the trash and be done with it.

2) Ceramics

Glass cups are perfectly fine to recycle, but not ceramic cups, saucers, and even pots. Ceramics are not organic and won’t decompose. So, when you have ceramic coffee cups, mugs, and pots that are broken or unusable, don’t toss them into the curbside pickup. Most recycling centers don’t accept ceramics.

Probably the best way to get rid of broken or unusable ceramic items is to check with your local recycling facility. See if they have a program for processing them. If not, donate them to a local thrift store.

3) Pizza Boxes

Yes, pizza boxes are made out of cardboard and cardboard is fully recyclable. But, as soon as it absorbs grease, it becomes unrecyclable. In the recycling process, paper products are mixed with water until it becomes a thick slurry. That grease and oil will seep to the top and it can’t be separated from the paper fibers.

Often, pizzas are delivered with a layer of paper to soak up the grease, but it doesn’t eliminate it. The best thing you can do with a leftover pizza box is to toss it into your regular trash bin and forget about recycling it.

4) Brightly Colored Paper

Don’t put brightly-colored paper into your recycling bin. Yes, it’s paper, but when it’s bright and shiny, it can create problems. The dyes in the paper can play havoc with the recycling process and add color to the recycling process. This can add unwanted color to the non-colored items the recycling companies need to recycle.

Instead of placing colored paper into your recycling bin, put it in your compost bin along with the leaves from your yard and grass clippings.

5) Broken Glass

When glass is whole, there’s no problem recycling it. You can put almost all glass bottles into your recycling container, but not if they’re broken. The shards will be dangerous to the workers in the recycling plant who sort and handle the glass by hand. If you have broken glass, check to find a facility that accepts broken glass or wrap it in a paper bag and toss it into your regular trash.

Also, some glass items like window panes and mirrors can contain chemical material that has a different melting point than glass. Don’t put them into the same box or bin. Instead, dispose of them properly by finding a facility that accepts mirrors and windows.

6) Bottle Caps and Aluminum Foil

Bottle caps should go into the trash. They are too small for the recycling machines to handle, and so are small amounts of aluminum foil. Simply toss them into the trash and forget about recycling. That is unless you have a huge amount of aluminum foil. In that case, if you can roll it up into a 3-inch ball or bigger, then it’s okay to recycle.

7) Paper Towels

Yes, of course, paper towels are made out of paper! And they are recyclable unless the stuff you used them to wipe up isn’t. If you’ve used your paper towels to wipe up grease, chemicals, body fluids, or anything else that’s not considered recyclable, then it can’t be recycled.

Put paper towels into your compost pile and let the organic materials break them down over time. Of course, if they contain chemicals or bleach, toss them into your regular trash.

8) Batteries

Batteries are not intended to be recycled. They can be if disposed of properly. But under normal circumstances, the chemicals and heavy metals in them will leak into the water supply when placed in landfills. They should always be disposed of properly. Check around a few major retail stores to see if they accept batteries for recycling.

Place used batteries into a small box and, over time, when it’s full, drop it off at a facility that accepts used batteries for recycling. Never dispose of a battery in your regular waste bin.

9) Prescription Drugs

Prescription drugs are always a problem. You can’t flush them down the toilet or dump them into the trash. They can easily have a serious impact on the environment. The concentrated chemicals can pollute the water supply and release toxins into the environment.

Many pharmacies have drug take-back programs and you can drop unused medications for safe disposal.

What Can be Recycled?

1) Clothing

Most of the clothing you want to toss away can be recycling. Everything from undergarments like panties and bras to household items. And, if you don’t want to recycle them, there are always charitable organizations you can take them to.

2) Eyeglasses

Many eyewear stores will accept old pairs of glasses and give them to organizations that recycle them. Like bicycles, it may be possible to refresh your old pair and it may help someone in a less-developed country to see better.

So you’ve grown tired of your bicycle. Don’t just haul it to the dumpster. Some organizations accept your old bikes. If they can’t recycle it, they will strip the parts and repurpose them. If they can, then they will transform it so that your old bike will look new and it can be reused.

3) Bicycles

Most bikes are recyclable. But before you haul an old unused one to the dumpster, check around for an organization that accepts old bikes. They may recycle it, or strip it down for parts and put a new one together for a needy youngster.

Recycling is one of the things we need to do to help the environment. Try to do your part. And be sure to let us know if these suggestions have been helpful. We certainly hope so!

Learn more about us!

If you live in the Chicago metro area and are interested in learning more about our home cleaning services, and how we can help you maintain a safe and healthy living environment, please text or give us a call. Our number is 708-599-7000. Or contact us online, and we’ll be happy to give you a free house or office cleaning consultation.