There Are a Lot of Surprising Things You Can’t Recycle — Here’s What You Can


We’re all trying to do more for the environment these days and it’s likely that you already make use of your recycling bin. But are you putting the right stuff in it? Do you know exactly what you can and can’t recycle?

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It might seem obvious, but it’s worth checking the guidelines on how to recycle properly so only the correct stuff is heading off to the recycling centers. 

What can go in your recycling bin:

  • Juice cartons 
  • Milk cartons 
  • Soup and smoothie cartons 
  • Other cardboard cartons 
  • Aluminium foil 
  • Aluminium foil containers 
  • Coffee jars 
  • Wine/beer bottles 
  • Glass jam jars 
  • Sauce bottles/jars 
  • Perfume bottles 
  • Plastic bottles such milk and drink bottles 
  • Bathroom bottles, including roll-on deodorants 
  • Laundry and detergent bottles and tubs 
  • Washing-up liquid bottles 
  • Yoghurt, cream and soup pots 
  • Ice cream and margarine tubs 
  • Makeup containers and tubs 
  • Food and ready meal trays 
  • Food packaging sleeves 
  • Pringles tubes 
  • Egg boxes 
  • Cereal boxes 
  • Paper cups 
  • Newspapers and magazines 
  • Paperback books 
  • Envelopes and junk mail 
  • Paper 
  • Greeting cards and wrapping paper (non-metallic) 
  • Catalogues 
  • Food and drink cans 
  • Pet food cans 
  • Cookie and sweet tins 
  • Empty aerosol cans (e.g deodorant sprays, hairspray cans, etc) 
  • Metal bottle tops and lids
  • Toothpaste boxes flattened 
  • Toilet roll tubes flattened
  • Plastic shampoo, shower gel and conditioner bottles (empty and rinse then replace the lids)
  • Bleach bottles — empty, replace lid
  • Liquid soap bottles — empty, rinse and remove pump dispenser (throw pump into the trash)
  • Empty tissue boxes (remove any plastic insert and flatten)
  • Empty dishwasher tablet boxes

What can’t go in your recycling bin:

  • Empty chip bags
  • Cat food pouches 
  • Soup pouches 
  • Dirty foil 
  • Mirror or window glass 
  • Pyrex 
  • Drinking glasses 
  • Milk bottles (rinse and return these to your milkman) 
  • Ceramics and dishwater
  • Glass vases 
  • Glasses 
  • Candle jars 
  • Paper towels 
  • Plastic film 
  • Bubblewrap 
  • Plastic bags  
  • Styrofoam
  • Plastic toys 
  • Coffee pods 
  • Paint, chemical, or engine oil tins 
  • Saucepans and utensils 
  • Electrical items 
  • Garden tools 
  • Gas canisters 
  • Batteries

Recycling Bin Tips:

  • Things like cookie or chocolate bar wrappers, empty chip bags, and cat food pouches, have a layer of plastic on them and are not true aluminium foil, so cannot be recycled.
  • The metal lids from the likes of wine bottles and glass jars should be removed and placed separately in your recycling bin.
  • Padded envelopes, like Jiffy Bags, cannot be recycled due to the plastic lining inside, and should be put in your rubbish bin. 
  • Cards with lots of glitter, ribbons, or other decorations cannot be recycled.
  • Cans shouldn’t have leftover food or liquid in them as this could spill out onto other recycling, preventing it from being recycled.
  • Some councils collect batteries as part of their household collection service but in most cases, you will need to take them to a recycling centre or a collection point.
  • Recycling one drinks can could save enough energy to power a TV for four hours.

This article originally appeared on our sister site, Yours.

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