What Should I NOT Put In Recycling Bins?

The recycle bin is one of the most beneficial inventions of this century. But how much of what we put in recycle bins is actually recyclable? It might be true that there has been no decrease in the amount that we recycle, but the quality of things put into the recycle bin is surely questionable. In fact, over the past few years, most of us have developed the habit of putting in non-recyclable items instead of the recyclable ones.

what not to put in a recycling bin

Our intentions in doing so is very much optimistic, as the more we recycle the better our contributions are towards saving energy, protecting wildlife and natural habitats, conserving natural resources, preventing pollution and even lowering greenhouse gas emissions. However, such wishful thinking is doing more harm than good to recycling effectiveness. Materials that a recycling bin cannot accept essentially jam the recycling machinery, resulting in damage to the recycling bin and costing expensive and time-consuming repairs.

What Items Should Not Be Put In Recycle Bins?

The following lines throw light on those items that must never be put in a recycle bin.

  • Styrofoam Or Foamed Polystyrene:

Styrofoam is generally used as molds for safeguarding packaged items, or as disposable cups and plates, or even for packing peanuts. You should make it a point never to put Styrofoam in recycling bins, even if it happens to carry the #6 mark (within a triangle), or your hauler/municipality says that #6 plastics are recyclable. In truth, #6 foamed products cannot be recycled the way #6 hard plastics (such as DVD cases, disposable cups) are recycled. #6 hard plastic items can be easily accepted by a recycling bin, unlike the #6 foamed plastic. You should instead consider dropping off any foamed polystyrene stuff at specific locations where they can be recycled properly.

  • Waxed Paper:

Paper is generally separated from other waste materials and then sold off to the mills for creating brand new recycled paper. However, cartons or paper coated with wax cannot be disposed of properly as the wax coating cannot be removed from the paper fibers. This makes wax paper completely un-reusable. You can only dispose of such items in the landfill, which is why it is best to avoid buying wax paper. Alternatively, you can consider opting for wax paper made out of soy wax rather than paraffin wax.

  • Plastic Bags: 

Anything with plastic film should not be put in a recycle bin. Plastic bags (shopping), sandwich bags (plastic), bread bags (plastic), cling wrap, or even dry cleaning bags should be kept away from the recycling bin. All these items are made from flimsy plastic materials (films) and can get easily tangled in any recycling bin. Eventually, these plastic films will jam the machines, causing the recycling bin to shut down temporarily. Also, these plastic bags will have to be untangled manually from the machine. Plastic can be recycled separately in specific locations, where you have to drop off your accumulated plastic waste. Generally, plastic waste is collected through collection bins (designated) that are placed at the entry points of pharmacies and grocery stores.

  • Gifts Cards And Credit Cards:  

First off, you need to make sure that your identity is well-protected before you decide to dispose of any item that contains your personal information. If a credit card expires, you need to cut it up and then put it in your trash can. However, gift cards or credit cards cannot be recycled. Although these cards are made from #3 plastic, they cannot be melted down to create new plastic-based products because of the holograms, magnetic strips and embedded strips in them.

  • Mesh Bags: 

These bags are available in stores, holding fruits and vegetables. Mesh bags can also easily get tangled inside a recycle bin, like plastic bags. Rather than throwing them into the recycle bin, you should try to find some use for such bags. In case the mesh bag is in good condition, you can reuse these bags for holding and draining pool or bath toys, and in case they are torn up, you can bunch a few of them together to make a dish scrubber.

In Conclusion:

Hopefully, you are now aware of those items that should NOT be put in recycle bins. If you have been putting any of the above-mentioned items in your recycle bin, stop doing so immediately. Recycle bins cannot recycle everything that you discard, and knowing the limitations of a recycle bin will help you ensure its durability and proper functioning.