Please do not put these in the recycling! Below is a list of the items that cause the most problems when people put them in recycling. Despite good intentions (sometimes called “wishcycling”), putting these in your bin just creates more work at the sorting facility, and in some cases can cause machinery to break down or increase the risk of worker injury.
Household hazardous waste such as batteries, electronics, fluorescent lightbulbs, helium and propane tanks, medicine, paint and syringes cannot go in the recycling. Instead, drop these off for free so that they can be disposed of safely.
Plastic bags and film are too thin to be recycled with other plastics, and they get tangled in recycling machinery. This causes lengthy delays and hazards for the workers who must untangle them. Recycle them with other plastic wrap and film at grocery stores.
Ceramic dishes and glassware are made of materials that have different melting points, so they can’t be melted back into their raw materials in bulk like glass bottles and jars.
Food gets stuck in sorting equipment and seeps into paper products, making the fibers too weak to be recycled. Make sure to empty all food and liquids from recyclable containers before placing them in your recycling.
The food and grease that sticks to paper damages the fibers so that they cannot be reused. Do not recycle them, because they contaminate whole batches of paper.
Foam is light, bulky, and difficult to separate from paper and food, making it too expensive and time-consuming to recycle.
The grease that soaks into pizza boxes damages the paper fibers so that they cannot be reused. Do not recycle them, because they contaminate whole batches of cardboard.
Disposable diapers contain both paper and plastic, and the mixed materials cannot be separated. If the diapers are used, they are also a biohazard.
Long, cable-like items such as garden hoses and Christmas lights easily wrap around sorting equipment. This can damage or shut down the machines and create safety hazards for sanitation workers.
Cords, cables and wires cannot go in the recycling because they wrap around recycling machinery and break it. They become a dangerous mess that sanitation workers need to untangle.