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Casa Verde: What Not to Recycle

In the past, I've given you the lowdown on which plastics can be recycled and told you 21 surprisingly recyclable things. But aside from the question of pizza boxes, I haven't gotten around to telling you what not to recycle. We all know that recycling is important, and San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom even thinks those who fail to should be punished. It's also pretty darn easy, especially if you've got a proper recycling bin system. However, tossing trash into your recycling bins can really complicate things for your local recycling crew. You'll have to check your local recycling guidelines to see what restrictions apply in your neck of the woods, but to get a general idea of what is not allowed in recycling,


This list, from San Francisco's recycling program, offers good guidelines on what not to put in your recycling bin:

  • Batteries
  • Electronics
  • Ceramic dishes or cups
  • Coat hangers
  • Compostable plastics
  • Food soiled paper (i.e. paper cups, plates, napkins, towels, takeout boxes. and greasy pizza boxes)
  • Light bulbs
  • Liquids
  • Mirrors
  • Plastic bags or plastic films
  • Soy milk or juice boxes
  • Styrofoam
  • Waxed cardboard
  • Window glass


Join The Conversation
drgethefbt drgethefbt 7 years
I live we rotate container and paper recycling one week and potentially composting material the next. Webmaster - merchant cash advances
ginacarla ginacarla 8 years
you can definitely recycle plastic grocery store bags. i've seen drop off bins at the entrance of supermarkets
Zulkey Zulkey 8 years
plastic bags as in grocery bags? Because mine have the little recycling sign on them (I live in Chicago and we have the blue bin program in my neighborhood which I LOVE--no sorting).
sega10028 sega10028 8 years
I think this is misleading. In San Francisco, we have 3 bins -- black (garbage), blue (recycling) and green (compost). Food soiled paper and waxed cardboard are not supposed to be recycled but should be put in the compost bin instead. In my mind, this is another form of recycling.
kia kia 8 years
You definitely have to read your local guidelines. Where I live we rotate container and paper recycling one week and potentially composting material the next. Then there are a lot of other things that you need to take down to the area recycling plant in your own time.
mudnessa mudnessa 8 years
can you recycle milk cartons but not soy milk or juices cartons? or am i misreading it and just getting confused. either way i dont put those in the recycle bin. living in an apartment i cant tell you all the crazy stuff people put in the recycle bin. anything that is plastic, there was a whole baby car seat in there one day, our curbside only takes #1 and #2 plastics here. the bins also say no plastic bags and everyone always puts their stuff in in plastic bags. it really bothers me how people just dont even bother to read what right on it. better than other apartments ive lived in, one was so bad the trash bin would be empty and everyone would put there stuff in the recycle bin, made no sense to me, the trash was an open dumpster and the recycle you had to lift the lid. i get so annoyed with non recyclers and those who dont care.
lawchick lawchick 8 years
Where I live (Mississippi) we can recycle a few of those things curbside --- pizza boxes, waxed milk cartons, certain plastic bags (like grocery store bags, not zip-locs)
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