5 Things You Thought Were Recyclable, That Aren't...

Posted by Kim C on

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(The Big No No’s In Recycling)

8 out of 10 UK residents believe recycling makes a difference, research from the British Science Association (BSA) shows. Recycling might seem to be a straightforward system, yet when quizzed on exactly what items can go into their recycling bins, none of the 2,000 adult Brits surveyed got full marks.

Not all plastic, glass, and paper can actually be recycled in an equal manner and our mistakes can be very costly for our environment, wild life and can result in wasted council tax money.

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Here are 5 commonly mistaken non-recyclable items that you need to avoid putting in your recycling bin:

  • Brightly dyed paper since the coloured ink can actually leak and change the other items’ colour.
  • Paper towels and napkins are deemed unsuitable in the process of recycling since these can absorb some contaminants.
  • Cardboard containers coated with wax and juice boxes – Usually these do not have the mark of being recyclable, you should not recycle them at all.
  • Plastic bottle tops – Even though you can recycle plastic bottles, the tops are not regarded as appropriate for recycling.
  • Wet paper is also not recyclable due to the damage to fibres and possible contaminants.

Do You know of any other items that are commonly believed to be recyclable but actually aren't?

Let us know in the comments below ⬇️

Remember: Reusing is better than Recycling. Please choose Reusables whenever possible ✅


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  • I would like to know if I can recycle light bulbs.

    Lois Pack on

  • Tetrapaks can be 100% recycled, but there are currently only two or three facilities in the country that are designed to do this. Leeds City Council had six tetrapak recycling points at recycling centres within the city, there wasn’t one in my small town at the edge of the city, so our local Labour Party branch collected them and drove them to the nearest bin. The council were so impressed by this that they have now sited a tetrapak recycling bin in our town.

    Shannon Coles on

  • My local Council (Aberdeenshire) has a fantastic A-Z of what to do with household items on their website. It’s really comprehensive. They recycle a huge variety of items including tetra packs, paper ice cream tubs ( like Ben and Jerry’s) and disposable coffee cups. They told me to leave on all bottle tops/lids as they were mostly recyclable
    and would be sorted. What I did learn is that polystyrene is not recyclable if it has been contaminated with food, even if it’s washed, so even though polystyrene can be recycled food packaging can never be recycled.

    Karen Osterberg on

  • Worcester council collect plastic and glass bottles with their tops on. Also jars have their lids left on. Not sure why they are different.

    Susan Davies on

  • Try and check your local policy. It changes according to recycling centers. London says it may recycle more than other regions. I would like details.
    Who will invent the app which will tell you, according to your postcode, what is recyclable or not ? PLEASE !!
    In Portugal, plastic bottle caps are collected separately and finance charity projects. Cork bottle tops are recycled. Plastic bags go with plastic, etc

    Tiphaine Modley on

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