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Home /  Blog / Advice / 7 Non-Recyclable Items That Will Surprise You

7 Non-Recyclable Items That Will Surprise You

10th August 2018 in Advice

More and more of us are actively taking the steps to incorporate recycling into our daily lives. However, many of us still remain unsure of what items get the green tick of approval when it comes to what is recyclable, and what is not. So before you start throwing rubbish in your recycling bins, check out this list of non-recyclable items:

1. Pizza boxes

You’d be forgiven in thinking these collapsible cardboard boxes were designed to be recycled, but unfortunately, that isn’t the case. Most pizzas sit directly on the cardboard, which absorbs the food and grease. If you were to add grease into the process of pulping cardboard, you will find the pulp separating and the fibres refusing to bind. It can show up in the new batch of paper as oily spots or even as holes.

2. Styrofoam

Styrofoam is a petroleum product and highly flammable, therefore a danger to most recycling centres. It’s separated from other recyclable items before even reaching the doors and sent straight off to the landfill, where it will take 500 years to biodegrade.

3. Coffee cups

Although made largely of paper, takeaway coffee cups are probably the most overlooked items when it comes to knowing your recyclables. The insides of the cups are polyethene-lined to make them waterproof and able to contain liquid. Not only that, once used they are contaminated with drink, so even if they are advertised as cups that can be recycled, they most likely won’t be. The reality is that less than 1% of UK coffee cups make it to the recycling plant.

4. Juice boxes

Similar to the disposable coffee cups, the majority of the juice boxes have a plastic coating which renders them unsuitable for recycling.

5. Plastic bags

It’s not that they can’t be recycled, but only a limited number of roadside collection programs offer this service. It’s easy to google and find out if your area's local collection provides it. Most supermarkets have a plastic bag recycling point within their grounds so if the roadside collection were unable to take them, this could be your alternative.

6. Paper napkins and paper towels

The majority of paper napkins and towels are made from recycled paper, meaning they have already been through the recycling process. The other problem arises from the majority of them being used for cleaning up food spills or bodily fluids, with no way to remove this from the paper fibres.

7. Ceramics

Ceramics and china cannot be recycled with glass as some people might think. According to waste management, the presence of ceramics like coffee cups and plates in your regular recycling glass bag will weaken the recycled product. Ensure ceramics are kept separate from your recyclable glass.  

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