What Not to Put in Your Recycling Wheelie

Experts have said that we could save thousands of tonnes of recyclables from ending up in landfill by avoiding contaminating our recycling waste. A common reason for recycling ending up too contaminated to process is people putting the wrong things in their recycling bin by mistake.

The hard to recycle items we put in our bins

Glass and paper are often considered easily recyclable, but not all types can be recycled. Food packaging like pizza boxes are put in the trash when they’re greasy, which makes them non-recyclable. Crisp packets are often thought of as foil, but many are actually a type of plastic that is not recyclable.

Gift wrapping paper that has glitter on can’t be recycled either, and the rule of thumb if you aren’t sure about putting plastic or paper in the recycling, is that if you scrunch it up and it stays scrunched up, it’s recyclable, but if it springs back to its original shape, it’s likely that it’s not.

The top recycling mistakes

Pizza boxes

They may be made from cardboard, but paper or card that is covered in grease can’t be recycled.

Crisp packets

These can be mistaken for foil, but they’re actually plastic coated in metal. If it scrunches into a ball and stays that way, it’s likely to be recyclable.

Glittery or metallic wrapping paper

It might be pretty, but if it glitters, it’s not recyclable. Neither are the ribbons you wrap your gifts with. Invest in some recyclable wrapping paper this Christmas.

Tissue and kitchen roll

You can recycle the tube as it’s made from carboard, but soiled tissue or kitchen roll can’t be recycled.

Wallpaper

Paper that is splashed with paint or that has coloured patterns can’t be put in your recycling bin.

Wet wipes

Whether they’re baby wipes or makeup wipes, you can’t recycle them, and please don’t flush them down the toilet as they either block sewage systems or wash up on beaches. Put them in general waste.

Polystyrene

This is notoriously difficult to recycle, though check with your local council to see if they accept it at their recycling centres. You can also hold onto it for packing fragile items you might be sending through the post

Light bulbs

They’re made from a different type of glass to food and drink jars and bottles, and they contain metal. Energy saving bulbs can be recycled at recycling centres, while older light bulbs can be put in the bin.

Batteries

People often throw these in the recycling, when as a hazardous kind of waste, they shouldn’t be put in any of your bins. They need to be taken to a battery collection point. If batteries end up in landfill, they can leak harmful metals and chemicals into the soil and waterways. Think about using rechargeable batteries which are much more eco-friendly.

Broken glass

You can recycle this, but it’s a hazard to you, and to the refuse collectors. Either take it to a recycling centre if it’s safe to handle, but if not, wrap it in newspaper and put it in your general waste.