What NOT to Recycle

A recycling symbol doesn’t necessarily mean that an item is recyclable. It’s confusing. It’s frustrating, but it’s true. Manufacturers add the symbol to their products in order to sell them. They don’t give any thought to what might be recyclable in a particular geographic area. It’s called “greenwashing.”

The following items ARE NOT recyclable, and can contaminate a whole load of good recyclables! 

  • Plastic film of any kind (bags, shrink wrap, Saran Wrap, dry cleaning bags, etc.) Many grocery stores will take back clean, dry produce and grocery bags for recycling.
  • Black plastic of any kind
  • Plastic of any kind unless it has #1 or #2 or #5 with a recycling symbol on it and is a type of container (bottle, jug or tub)  If it doesn’t have a #1 or #2 or #5 (with the recycling symbol), put it in the trash.
  • Item that measures less than 2” x 2” or more than 2’ x 2’. It can fall through or fall off the conveyor belt grates at the recycling facility.
  • “Wet strength” cardboard beverage holders and frozen food boxes. They contain plastic to increase their strength.
  • “Compostable” tableware or containers of any kind. If it looks like plastic, it’s not, and will contaminate an acceptable load of plastic. If it looks like cardboard, it’s not, and will contaminate an acceptable load of cardboard or paperboard. Go to a thrift store and buy yourself a washable plate, bowl, cup, and utensils or Google “reusable ware.”
  • Paper plates, cups, bowls, etc. Many are treated with chemicals or coated with plastic to make them more water resistant. Put it in the trash.
  • Styrofoam or polystyrene. It has a recycling symbol but it’s not recyclable.

Please don't “wish-cycle” - It’s always better to throw something in the trash than to contaminate a load of good recyclables. Please don’t try to second guess.