3 Things You Surprisingly Can’t Recycle

We have all heard the saying “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” but sometimes that last step is harder than it seems. There are many items that actually can’t be tossed in your home recycling bin. This can be due to the item's difficulty itself or city guidelines surrounding their recycling programs. This can make what should be an easy step very difficult! Here are 3 things you actually can’t recycle and what to do with them instead.

  1. 1. Pizza Boxes

    When I first learned that pizza boxes couldn’t be recycled, I was in complete shock. You would think a simple cardboard box could be. Right? Wrong. Turns out pizza boxes can’t be recycled due to the grease left behind from that delicious pizza. There are ways to deal with this though: simply cut out the grease-soaked spots and recycle the remaining box (especially the top), or the easiest solution to handle this dilemma is to start a compost bin and toss it in.

  2. 2. Coffee/Soda Cups

    I often thought coffee or soda cups where made of just paper, but it turns out they have a plastic lining that keeps them leak proof. While this is great for getting a drink to-go, the lining makes these cups extremely difficult to recycle. Unfortunately, for these to-go cups, the only parts that can be recycled are the plastic lids and coffee sleeves. The best solution to these cups is to stop using them and bringing your own cups.

  3. 3. Plastic Bags

    You’ve probably seen cardboard boxes near the grocery store entrances, but guess what? They have a purpose. Even though some plastics are recyclable, plastic bags simply aren’t. The thin plastic can clog machines, making it difficult to process and often left to landfill. This becomes a bigger issue because this plastic isn’t biodegradable and is often the biggest source of ocean pollution. The key to combat this is to remember to bring your reusable bags to the store or opt for paper bags (in case you forget).

Recycling always seems like the easiest option but learning things can’t be recycled makes it seem harder. While some items can’t be recycled in your home bin there are recycling programs, like Terracycle, that have different recycling programs (many are even free). Also check with your local city/county for additional recycling guidelines. While recycling definitely helps, the best way to combat waste is to reduce the number or single packaged products and reuse items when we can. Happy recycling!