10 most confusing items to recycle
Knowing what to recycle can be a bit of a minefield, so many local authorities have different rules on what they’ll take and what they won’t. Most people are comfortable with the simple stuff: plastic bottles, cardboard, newspapers, metal tins, glass bottles etc and most councils will take these as standard too.
But when we start looking at the more confusing items, like pizza boxes, it’s not quite so straight forward. So, here’s a look at the 10 most confusing items to recycle:
Clear plastic packaging
These are definitely recyclable. Typically, they’ll have had raw meat in or something like that, so make sure to wash them when you do the washing up, before popping them in your recycling. The clear plastic film that’s on top isn’t recyclable though, so make sure to put that in landfill.
Generally not recyclable. It’s worth contacting your local recycling centre to check, as there’s always a chance they might accept it.
As long as they’re printed on normal paper, they can be recycled. But if they’re on thermal paper, or coated in plastic, then they can’t be. If you’re unsure, put them in landfill so not to contaminate your recycling. If the shop offers it, maybe get the receipt emailed instead – that way you’ll always have a copy in case you need to return the item later.
The rule of thumb here is that it can be recycled, as long as there’s no food on it and it’s not too greasy. A couple grease stains will be ok, but if it’s very greasy pop it in with your landfill rubbish. Of course, you could always rip off the very greasy bit, and recycle the rest.
This was a surprise for us too, it’s recyclable! A bit like the pizza boxes, it can’t be dirty. You can always clean off any bits of food first, but as long as it’s pretty clean you can pop it in your recycling bin.
Sadly, these generally aren’t recyclable. They contain a small amount of plastic inside which keeps them waterproof and insulated. Maybe consider buying a reusable coffee cup; as well as doing your bit for the environment, most coffee chains offer a discount for bringing your own.
As long as they’re completely empty, you should be able to pop these in your recycling. If you’re able to safely take the top off that will help with them being recycled properly too.
Only the inner cardboard tube of kitchen roll is recyclable. Kitchen roll is usually used to clean things, so isn’t clean in itself and that’s why it can’t be recycled.
Black plastic packaging
Surprisingly, black plastic packaging (like the kind you might buy a pack of sausages in or beef mince) isn’t really recyclable. Technically it’s the same as other plastic packaging, so should be. However, the machines that sort the recycling aren’t very good at spotting the black plastic, so it often ends up in landfill anyway. Waitrose is leading the way in removing all black plastic from own-label products and other supermarkets are following.
While you can’t put these in your recycling, there are lots of ways to recycle crisp packets. If you have children, often Schools collect crisp packets for recycling. Walkers also runs an extensive crisp packet recycling scheme with recycling points all over the country. Visit Walkers to see where your nearest drop-off point is.
The biggest rule of thumb when recycling at home is to make sure you wash your plastic containers, tins and bottles first to remove any remaining food or drink. Be thoughtful about what you’re putting in there, and if in doubt, check your local authority website to see what it’ll accept.
Why is it important to clean your containers before putting them in recycling?
It’s really important to make sure the packaging you put in recycling is clean because if it’s not, it can’t be recycled and is classed as contaminated. When an item in a recycling bag is classed as contaminated, the whole bag of recycling goes to landfill as it could have more contamination in it. For example, if a dirty can of beans was put in with the recycling, the juice from the beans could drip over the other clean recycling, making it all contaminated and destined for landfill.
If you want to see how much your local council is recycling, have a look at the Confused.com league table to see recycling rates.