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The Waste Place
useful waste solutions

Things you think can go in recycling, but probably can't!

Things you think can go in recycling, but probably can't!Recycling Bin

Most of us have a vision of what things can be recycled. Common things made of paper, card and plastic. Obviously these go in your bin which states “Recycling” on it. Only this is not always the case and even if there is labelling saying packaging can be recycled, it doesn’t mean that it is!

These are some everyday materials people think can go in their recycling which may lead to their bin not being collected (and a nice note attached advertising the fact to your neighbours!) or even if taken, will possibly end up at landfill, defeating the point of putting it in your green box in the first place!

Paper and Card

Paper and card get sent to mills where they are reprocessed into fresh product. Most types can be recycled, if they are not contaminated. Here in lays the problem. Excess tape can lead to rejection at recycling centres, as can contamination by food.

It is the food contamination which is a real issue in most cases. Paper towels and plates are probably a no, unless you clean the plate exceptionally well! Takeaway containers even if uncoated, like pizza boxes, won’t go in the recycling if they have a lot of oil on them. Oil causes serious issues with the recycling process, so leave oil saturated card and paper in the regular bin. Also if the material gets wet it can affect the fibres, so reducing the ability to recycle it. Very thin wrapping paper can have a similar issue of starting with short fibres, which means often it can’t be recycled!

Packaging with a plastic based coating to protect it from leaking is a very current topic. Coffee cups look recyclable, but in fact most can’t be, due to the coating. It is the same with a lot of juice cartons.


Not all glass is created equal. Bottles and jars are usually fine in your glass recycling bin. Unlike paper and card, it also doesn’t matter quite so much if they are a bit grubby from food waste. This is due the recycling process involving heating the material to high temperatures, which takes care of some contaminants.

The heating of glass is however the reason some glass cannot go in the same bin. Glass tumblers and window panes have different melting points, so will cause issues with the recycling process when mixed with bottles and jars. Separating the different types of glass would be far too much labour to make it economical.

In the same way Pyrex also can’t go in the regular glass bin. It is treated chemically to withstand very high temperatures, which is an obvious issue with current glass recycling techniques.

There should be a place though at the local recycling centre (tip) for “rubble”/aggregates and these can be recycled in there for the construction industry.

Carrier Bags and Cling Film

Both these can be recycled, yet generally neither is supposed to go in your household recycling bin. The reason being the machinery which processes the recycling can get clogged up with these materials. Also, at least where cling-wrap is concerned, food contamination can be an issue.

Most major supermarket chains have collection points for carrier bags. Clingfilm on the other hand is a bit trickier. There are not many companies who recycle cling film, or bubble wrap for that matter, or any other stretchy polythene based materials. The only one I know from a quick check is who can be sent the material, or they have a drop off at their site in Norwich!

There are probably more, so if you are wondering about any materials, drop us a message on email or social media and we will do our best to get an answer to you!

Dan: 7th Dec 2017 14:55:00

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