It’s tempting to throw anything that has a chance of being recycled into the recycling bin. But don’t do this: Tossing some items in may cause more harm than good.
Don’t throw these items in the recycling bin unless you are absolutely sure your municipal recycling program takes them:
- Aerosol cans: They may be made of metal, but they’re also filled with chemicals and propellants. Many municipal systems treat them as hazardous material.
- Batteries: These need to be handled separately from curbside recycling and trash.
- Household glass: This one is tricky. You can recycle glass bottles and jars, but windows, mirrors, light bulbs, and tableware are often impractical to recycle. Compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) are recyclable, but they contain mercury and need to be carefully handled.
- Napkins and paper towels: Recycling napkins and paper towels is discouraged because of what they might have absorbed.
- Pizza boxes: Pizza boxes can contain a lot of grease. This not only makes them difficult to recycle, but the grease can contaminate other recyclables.
- Plastic bags and plastic wraps: Reuse these if possible, but they typically aren’t recyclable.
- Plastic screw-on tops: These should be disposed of separately from plastic water bottles.
- Wet paper: Wet paper can have damaged fibers and may also contaminate other paper.
Remember that this list is a generalization! Your city might accept several of these items in their curbside recycling program. Check to make sure.
Did any of the items on the list surprise you?