Curbside Recycling: What Can and Can’t Be Recycled

Have you ever been unsure whether an item can be recycled when standing in front of the recycling bin? You’re not the only one. Recycling rules can be complicated and confusing.

This article is a helpful guide that will answer your questions about recycling. It will list what items can and cannot be put into your curbside bin.

Table of Contents [Hide]

  1. Understanding Curbside Recycling
  2. What Can Be Recycled?
  3. What Can’t Be Recycled?
  4. Dealing with Difficult-to-Recycle Items
  5. Myths and Facts about Curbside Recycling
  6. Frequently Asked Questions
  7. In Summary

Understanding Curbside Recycling

You can use curbside recycling to separate specific waste materials from your regular garbage. This system allows for a special collection of those materials. A recycling service provider usually picks up the separated items from your curb on scheduled days.

You might have seen bins with different colors for recycling materials like plastic, glass, and paper.

This recycling process helps households recycle their waste efficiently. However, users need to know what can be effectively recycled curbside.

Misuse often happens when people put things that can’t be recycled into the bin, hoping they will be appropriately recycled. This can harm the recycling system and put workers at risk. However, this can disappointingly harm the recycling system and jeopardize worker safety.

A better approach lies in being mindful about what goes in the bin. Plastic bags should not be put in the curbside bin. Instead, they should be taken to store drop-off programs for disposal.

Similarly, electrical cords and garden hoses should be disposed of outside regular curbside containers. This is because they have the potential to cause damage to recycling machinery if placed in the wrong location.

It’s important to understand that telling the difference between trash and recyclable materials can be confusing. Having the right knowledge and practicing proper waste management ensures efficient resource use and promotes eco-friendly community living.

What Can Be Recycled?Curbside Recycling

Many everyday items can be recycled at home. These include paper, plastic bottles, different types of glass, aluminum cans, used tires, and certain metals.


Paper and cardboard are staples in the world of recyclable materials. Newspapers, magazines, office paper, and mail comprise much American waste.

We recycle around 68 percent each year, which helps us keep more than half of our waste out of landfills. Every single item matters when it comes to living an eco-friendly lifestyle.

When you put pizza boxes in your recycling bin, you might worry about grease or food stains. But don’t worry, you can still recycle them. However, they can be recycled despite those common pizza-loving blemishes.

Yes, that’s correct! Your go-to Friday night dinner can help reduce paper waste in landfills. By recycling your takeaway containers made of plain or glossy paper and cardboard, you can make an environmentally friendly choice and feel good about it.


Sorting and recycling plastics can be a bit tricky. Plastic containers have numbers #1-7, known as resin identification codes. These codes offer helpful insights about the type of plastic you’re dealing with.

Bottles, containers, cups, and caps are essential daily. They follow different paths in the recycling system. Candy wrappers and potato chip bags made of flexible packaging cannot be recycled, so they usually end up in the trash.

Bulky items, such as furniture, can be challenging to recycle because each community has its own rules about what they accept. Another problematic item to recycle is Styrofoam, as curbside programs rarely accept it.

You might believe putting your plastic in bags is a good way to protect during transport and keep things neat. However, when it comes to the green bin, this approach causes problems. Putting bags full of carefully sorted plastics will not result in an environmentally friendly outcome but will cause issues at the processing facilities.

And don’t forget, specific store drop-off locations accept plastic bags and wraps. They can be recycled instead of being thrown away in a landfill. Be sure to follow the guidelines provided by local services to give every piece a chance at a new life.


Glass is excellent for recycling because it can be reused repeatedly without losing quality. Clear glass items are easily recycled in curbside programs because they are often used in packaging.

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Aluminum plays a vital role in curbside recycling. Aluminum is light and robust, perfect for cans and car parts. You can recycle aluminum cans, foil, and pie plates at your local recycling center.

You can contact the municipal programs if you have oversized items like window frames or siding. They often collect these large pieces for recycling. Be cautious of items containing a mix of aluminum and other substances, as they may cause problems during recycling by contaminating the recycling systems.

Recycling aluminum has a significant benefit: it dramatically reduces energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions. It’s an easy way to live in an eco-friendly manner.


Metal materials represent a significant portion of our recycling stream. Ferrous metals contain iron, while nonferrous metals like aluminum and copper are commonly found in everyday packaging and products.

These can easily be recycled into new items. Recycling has lower energy costs compared to extracting from raw ore. In 2018, about 27.8% of metal waste was recycled, with nonferrous metals reaching up to 68%. Just put clean metal items in your recycling bins along with other recyclables.

Rinse items like cans or lids to remove leftover food and prevent contamination in processing plants.

What Can’t Be Recycled?Can’t Be Recycled Curbside

Get ready for a reality check! Some things cannot be put in the curbside recycling bin. Examples include plastic bags, soiled food containers, batteries, and complex electronics.

Undeniably annoying, yet inevitable. But why exactly? Read on to get clued in on all the forbidden items of your recycling game plan.

Plastic Bags and Wraps

Plastic bags and wraps become problematic additions to your recycling bin. These materials can cause problems in recycling when they get stuck in machines at the facility. They are often mistaken for recyclable items and are called ‘tanglers.’

Use store drop-off programs instead of curbside collection to recycle plastic bags properly. Don’t put your recyclables in bags because most waste services don’t accept them.

Certain types of packaging, like potato chip bags and candy wrappers, cannot be recycled because they are made of multiple layers. Therefore, it is important to throw them in regular trash bins.

Food Soiled Recyclables

Food-smeared cans, cheese-covered pizza boxes, or sauce-soaked plastic containers can disrupt recycling. Items dirty with food make recycling systems dirty and take time to clean and separate from other recyclables.

Throwing hot dog wrappers or french fry holders into a recycling bin can harm the environment. It takes valuable resources away from materials that are easier to recycle. Greasy paper plates, food-soiled aluminum foil, and other dirty kitchen waste should go in compost heaps, not the recycling bin.

Instead of putting these commonly misunderstood items into recycling bins, you can compost them. This helps make it easier for recycling facilities to sort materials and improves soil health in community gardens.

Hazardous Materials

Hazardous materials pose a unique challenge when it comes to recycling. Ignitable, corrosive, or toxic products should not be put in your curbside bin. This category of items presents a particular challenge when it comes to recycling.

Equally high-risk offenders are batteries. Rechargeable or lithium-ion batteries can cause significant damage to the recycling system and pose a safety risk at recycling facilities. They should be safely disposed of at designated drop-off locations.

Smartphones, TVs, and laptops are examples of technological items. They are a type of hazardous material called e-waste. Proper handling is necessary instead of throwing them in regular bins without thinking.

Don’t forget about dirty diapers! Propane cylinders might seem harmless, but don’t be fooled – they can’t be recycled like other items. Instead, you should return them to the retailer where you bought them.

Batteries, including Lithium Ion

Batteries present a unique challenge in recycling due to their potentially hazardous contents. Your regular recycling bin at home isn’t suitable for batteries, particularly rechargeable ones like lithium-ion batteries found in laptops and smartphones.

Batteries require special handling for proper disposal due to their hazardous materials. To safely and eco-friendly dispose of these items, use battery recycling programs.

Today, different communities have designated places to drop off batteries for collection and proper processing. These locations are specialized, unlike the usual curbside pick-up system.


Disposing of electronics in curbside recycling bins is not recommended. Headphones, electric cords, and garden hoses may seem harmless, but they can damage recycling machinery due to their tendency to tangle.

Additionally, electronic devices often have dangerous materials like heavy metals that require special care when recycling. You can choose better options instead of throwing away your old electronic devices. You can give them to someone who can still use them or use special programs to dispose of them safely and responsibly.

The Green Gadgets directory shows where you can donate or recycle electronics properly.


Ceramics, a common household material, fall into the category of non-recyclable items. Ceramic items like pottery, dishes, and mugs have unique qualities that make them unsuitable for our regular recycling programs.

These objects are solid and last a long time, but they can’t be recycled to make new things after they are made.

Including ceramics in your recycling bin can lead to unwanted consequences. Ceramics don’t break down easily in recycling facilities. This can cause problems by damaging the equipment used for recycling.

When workers handle recycled materials, they may face danger from sharp edges or broken ceramic pieces. If you’re unsure what to do with old or unused ceramics, think about donating them instead of throwing them away.

Certain Bulky Plastic Items

Dealing with bulky plastic items can be a confusing venture. Regular recycling bins at home can’t take big items such as outdoor furniture or laundry baskets. Oversized items like outdoor furniture or laundry baskets require special treatment. However, the available options depend on the rules and capabilities of your local community.

Some towns have special programs for disposing of these items, while others send them to landfills because of their large size and complex structure. Before throwing away these products with your regular trash, ask your waste management service about specific collection events or alternative disposal options.


Tires aren’t accepted in curbside recycling programs. They are made up of complex materials that require special treatment. But they don’t have to go to the landfill! Instead, you can bring used tires to recycling centers or tire stores.

Recycled tires become valuable products, so you don’t need to worry about your old tires cluttering the environment. Picture playgrounds with soft rubber crumbs and race tracks made from discarded tires being given a new life.

Some types of asphalt use recycled tire rubber to make it more durable and reduce noise.

Dealing with Difficult-to-Recycle Items

When you come across difficult items, don’t get discouraged! Ask your recycling service for a special pick-up, or hire an environmentally friendly junk removal company like LoadUp.

Requesting particular pickup through recycling service

Local recycling services offer convenient pickup options for items that cannot be put in your regular bin. Many local recycling services are helpful if you need to dispose of large electronics, appliances, or items like batteries and propane cylinders that can be dangerous.

You can call or complete an online form on the service’s website to schedule the collection. This service ensures that harmful materials and oversized items are disposed of safely and adequately, preventing them from filling landfills or polluting the environment.

More oversized items like furniture, exercise equipment, and lawnmowers can usually be picked up for recycling, too! By getting rid of clutter and recycling properly, you’re helping the environment and living in an eco-friendly way.

Hiring an eco-friendly junk removal company

Hiring a green junk removal company can solve your recycling problems and help create a healthier environment. LoadUp and similar companies provide an eco-friendly way to eliminate items that are hard to recycle, helping the environment.

Their service is designed to make things easier and help reduce waste, which helps protect our environment.

Eco-friendly junk removal services know that some materials are not accepted by regular curbside pickup due to their complexity. They operate in special facilities to safely and responsibly handle electronics, hazardous materials, and large plastic items.

Using their knowledge, you can be confident that waste you think cannot be recycled won’t harm the planet.

Myths and Facts about Curbside Recycling

Many people believe in the “wish cycling” myth regarding curbside recycling. They think tossing items into the recycling bins can magically make them recyclable. This can severely damage the recycling system and even endanger workers.

Therefore, it’s critical to understand precisely what materials suit your bin.

Plastic bags and wraps often end up in curbside collection systems because people mistakenly believe they can be processed there. These items should be taken to store drop-off programs instead of residential bins. This is because they can cause problems with machinery at facilities.

A common myth is that electric cords and garden hoses can be easily recycled. However, this is not true, as they can cause damage to recycling equipment. False! These items cause a lot of damage to equipment used for handling other recyclables.

Hazardous materials are confusing, and we’re unsure if they can be thrown in green bins. Ignitable, corrosive, or toxic substances should not be put in communal waste disposal. They pose serious risks to people and the environment.

Frequently Asked Questions

What items should not be put in the recycling bin?

Certain items cannot be recycled. These include diapers, food waste (unless composted at home), multi-layer bags often found in snack packaging, bulky plastic items, and hazardous household waste. It is important to keep these items out of the recycling bin to prevent contamination of the recycling system.

How can I properly handle difficult-to-recycle items?

Properly dispose of tricky items like lithium-ion batteries or propane cylinders, considered Household Hazardous Waste (HHW). Follow your local guidelines to find HHW collection points or drop-off locations. For bulky items like furniture, they require specific handling methods. You can contact eco-friendly junk removal companies such as LoadUp for pickup services.

Can textiles & clothing go into my recycle bin?

Don’t throw these items in your regular recycling bins! They can get tangled and cause problems during the recycling process. Instead, look for store drop-off programs that specifically handle these items. They might be able to repurpose or reuse them, so separate and bag them separately!

Is pizza boxes’ box recyclable?

Pizza boxes could indeed get recycled if thoroughly devoid of left-food bits. Residual grease can cause contamination even when we take care of it. The solution is to separate contaminated parts from the greased ones before throwing them away. Clean sections can still be reused.

Where do I dispose of electronic waste?

Electronic wastes like cell phones, computers, and appliances cannot be thrown in regular curbside bins. You can use the Go Green Gadgets Directory to find dedicated disposal locations. Alternatively, check for upcoming electronics-focused community events in your city or town where you can safely dispose of these ecologically harmful substances.

In Summary

Embracing curbside recycling is a critical step towards eco-friendly living. By learning how to recycle correctly, we can prevent mistakes and improve our recycling system.

To make recycling effective, we must put waste in the correct bin and know what can and cannot be recycled. Make it your mission- recycle smartly!


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