What things are recyclable & what are not?

What things are recyclable & what are not?

Every day, we use materials for various uses. Our daily lives and work require this. Nowadays, there are many materials that we use and how we dispose of them has a profound impact on the planet. It may not seem like a big deal because you think it does not have a direct impact on you, but in fact, it has a lot of impact and what you do to the environment comes back to haunt you in one way or the other. 

cartoon lady sorting her recyling

As the world’s population balloons, there is a greater need to keep our environment clean and safe. It is the basic principle, where you take care of something as it takes care of you. We are the earth’s citizens and if we can not take care of it, we are killing it. It is important to know how best to recycle the materials that we use every day and play your part in saving the earth.

Recycling is about finding new ways to use old materials. This is especially important when you are dealing with materials that are not biodegradable. It is the best way to reduce one’s carbon footprint on the earth. How and where you recycle is also largely dependent on where you live and what sort of programmes are available there. 

Recycling is a way of reducing the impact we have on the planet. When we make a conscious decision to reuse something we do our part to make sure that the environment lives to see another day. We recycle so that we use less raw materials and in doing so we preserve them.

Take for instance paper, when we recycle it, we make an impact on the forests and plants of the world. Recycling has no reflection on whether or not you can afford something new, it is more about choosing not to because you care about the impact the process of production has on the earth. 

When we recycle, we reduce the amount of waste that gets sent to landfills and the waste that gets burnt. It prevents pollution and saves energy. Recycling also conserves natural resources and helps sustain economies when local products are used in production. The basic principles of recycling are to reduce reuse and recycle. Recycling also allows us to get more mileage out of a single item.

In this article, we take a look at the different everyday items we use and which ones can be reused and recycled. We can reduce our carbon footprint if we all do our part.

Changing some daily habits around the office for example, like buying recycled paper and printing on both sides, is a great way of getting the most out of paper. As a community leader, you can encourage people to recycle by setting up recycling bins in different areas around the community. You can even do this at home and teach your family how to correctly dispose of different materials. 

Whilst recycling may not be a way of life for everyone, it is important to realize that when we do not recycle, we are destroying natural habitats and the ecosystem of the earth. We are part of that ecosystem, and destroying it is doing ourselves a disservice. Being part of the bigger picture also means that we have to do our bit to keep it safe.

The way that we get rid of trash has far-reaching impacts. Aquatic life is affected by the pollution in the sea, which is probably a part of the ecosystem you did not think you had any connection to. But when you throw out a plastic cable tie, it can find itself into the sea and will stay there for the next couple of years. You can begin to make a difference in the environment by doing your part to reduce reuse and recycle what you can. 

Is This Recyclable?

Is bubble wrap recyclable?

Bubble wrap can be reused. It may seem like a difficult or impossible task since it is made of plastic and plastic is not biodegradable. It is recyclable in the sense that it can be reused over and over again. Throwing it into your trash can is not advisable. It is not biodegradable which means that if thrown out, it will not rot, it will merely sit in the earth forever.

bubble wrap

Bubble wrap is mainly used to protect your goods and property when you need to move it around. The generic name for the commonly known bubble wrap is air cellular cushioning material. It is made of polyethylene plastic that is also known as film. The sheets are laid one on top of the other and then heat pressed. 

This process creates air pockets or bubbles. It was initially meant to be used as wrapping paper but that did not work out. It was then discovered that this new type of plastic film with bubbles in it was perfect for keeping delicate items safe during the process of moving them around. 

Today bubble wrap is used to protect several items during the process of moving them and as such, it means that moving companies tend to have lots of cellular cushioning material leftover. It is therefore imperative to know how to dispose of it in a way that is safe for the environment. Burning it is harmful to the environment and for human health too.

You will find that getting rid of bubble wrap by burning it releases harmful toxins into the air. Recycle it by reusing it. If you feel you have reached the end of your line with the plastic, look for a local program that can take the plastic and dispose of it. Most recycling centres do not recycle bubble wrap because it is made of thin-film that gets tangled in the machines. 

Is wrapping paper recyclable

You can reuse certain types of wrapping paper. Any wrapping paper that is shiny or has glitters or can not be scrunched up, is not recyclable. If the paper scrunches up and stays that way, then it means that it can be reused until it has seen better days. Most wrapping paper tends to be covered in plastic and this is another feature that makes it difficult to re-use.  How many times you can use it depends on its quality. Most of the wrapping paper you find nowadays is already recycled. 

Is aluminum foil recyclable

Foil paper can be reused. If it was used to cook with, make sure to clean it thoroughly first before you put it away. Do this gently making sure that you do not tear the paper.

Are milk cartons recyclable

milk carton

Milk Cartons can be reused for different projects. This will depend on the shape. Clean it out before you use it. You can cut up the carton and make toys for children, or even planters. The cartons are made to hold liquids which means that they are waterproof and can be reused to hold anything with moisture. 

Are CDs recyclable

CDz can not be recycled even though they are made of plastic. This is also because they do not come with a resin identification code that lets recycling centres know how they ought to be handled. You can reuse CDs however you will not be using them for the same purpose they were created. You can turn them into decorative wall pieces or break them apart to make different fashion or art pieces. 

Is tissue paper recyclable

Tissue paper is not recyclable. This is mostly because it is mostly always made of already recycled material. You will not be able to reuse it again. The other reason why you can not recycle tissue paper is that we usually use a tissue to wipe up spills and stains that we would not want to be touching again. 

Are pizza boxes recyclable

These are reusable and also can be used in composts. They usually have food debris stuck on them and this can also help attract the bugs you want in a compost heap. You can get rid of the pizza boxes in your organic rubbish heap. However they can not be recycled when they still have a bit of food in them and grease from the pizza. In their clean state, pizza boxes can be recycled.

Are egg cartons recyclable

Egg cartons are usually made of a cardboard box and these can be recycled. Children may find them useful for school projects. You can also re-use them to soundproof a music booth or room. You will need to make sure that they are clean and they can be reused. Otherwise, you may need to throw them out, and just like pizza boxes, they can go in the organic pile. Be careful to check on what type of material the cartons are made of as some companies choose to use polystyrene. 

Are straws recyclable?

Glass bottles with straws

Straws can be recycled, however most recycling programs will not take them as they tend to be too small for the machines. Straws are only biodegradable if they are made of the material that can decompose. However, you can still reuse plastic straws if they are cleaned out. The reason why most companies will not recycle plastic straws is that they are small and usually fall through the cracks and cause more trouble than they are worth. For this reason, plastic straws are mostly said to be unrecyclable. 

Is shredded paper recyclable

All paper is recyclable as long as it is clean. However, shredded paper and cardboard should not be put along with other papers for recycling. You can use it to line the floor of cages but not to place in a recycle bin to make more paper.

Is silicone recyclable

You will generally find that silicone is not widely recycled. One of the reasons for this is the fact that it requires downcycling before it can be ready for any recycling processes. This makes it a costly material to recycle. Silicone is not biodegradable. While a lot of it will end up in landfills, it does not biodegrade. The only positive thing that we can take from this is that it is not a toxic material. However, some plants can recycle it.

Are receipts recyclable

Receipts generated by most tills nowadays, can not be recycled because they have more than one material on them. Experts advise burning them rather than putting them in the recycling bin. 

Are paper towels recyclable?

Paper towels may be made of materials that can be recycled however they are not recyclable. This is mostly because they are one-use items and need to be thrown out as soon as they are used. 

Are magazines recyclable?

Magazines are made of paper and once you are done with your copies, you can put them in the appropriate recycling bin.

Is foam recyclable?

Foam is also known as polystyrene, is slow to biodegrade like other plastics, however, it is fully recyclable.The amount of time it takes to decompose depends on the factors surrounding it. Environment experts suggest staying away from styrofoam altogether. That includes styrofoam egg cartons. 

Are packing peanuts recyclable?

Foam packing peanuts are made of polystyrene and they are recyclable.  You will just need to find a pace that can do this.

Are bottle caps recyclable?

Plastic bottle caps can be recycled. Besides recycling, they can also be repurposed for various projects. You will commonly see this done in arts and crafts. This applies to beer bottle caps as well. 

Are Ziploc bags recyclable?

Although these bags may seem like they can not be recycled because they are plastic, the contrary is true. You can recycle Ziploc brand bags.

Are CD cases recyclable?

Some CD cases are recyclable whilst others are not.Recycle programs accept materials made of plastic number 6.  It is important that you find out from the company you are going to take them to and what conditions they have. You may need to remove any papers or stickers on the cases first.

Are light bulbs recyclable?

Light bulb about to burn out

Light bulbs can be recycled. There are various centers that can reuse the materials a light bulb is made of. Due to how delicate and dangerous they can be it is important that you check if your curbside recycling has a facility for collection. In most cases, you may need to drop these off at a recycling centre.

Is PVC recyclable?

This type of plastic packaging is not recyclable. It is important for you to check the package label to see what it is made of before tossing it into a recycle bin. 

Recyclable trash bags

Recyclable trash bags are made of a material that can be recycled to make more bags. They are purposefully made this way so that you can throw them out and know that they will biodegrade.

Are plastic hangers recyclable?

Plastic and metal hangers are now recyclable by some companies depending on which part of the world you live in. It is important to know which centers are around you that can help you recycle your old hangers. Before you ship them off, make sure that you remove any fabric around the hangers. However wooden hangers are not part of those that you can recycle. 

Are chip bags recyclable?

Chip bags are not recyclable. This is because most chip bags are made of aluminum laminated with polypropylene, also known as metalized polypropylene, or low-density polyethylene film.

Are paper plates recyclable?

paper plates

Paper plates are generally not recyclable. This is large because food and grease can not be separated from the paper plate. Recycling becomes even more impossible when the plates are covered in some sort of plastic. If you want to use disposable plates, search for bamboo plates.

Is rubber recyclable

Rubber is recyclable. Simply find a center or a recycling program around you that can take the type of rubber that you have. In some cases, you will find programs and companies that will collect from your curbside for free. They will in turn get paid for recycling it or selling the recycled version of it.

Is metal recyclable

Metal is a material that can be recycled. You can recycle metal over and over again without worrying about changing the properties of the material. Usually, metals for recycling are separated into two different categories, which are aluminum and steel.

Are DVD cases recyclable?

Some cases can be recycled. Firstly, it depends on what the cases are made of. Some cases are made of plastic, whilst others are made of cardboard, as in the case of box sets. Make sure there are no plastic labels or wrapping on the case. Once you have ensured that the case is clean, you can take it to the local recycling plant.

Are books recyclable?

Books usually can not be recycled in the same way as ordinary paper largely because of the glue that is used to bind the books. If they are paperback, then some curbside recycling programs will take them. 

Is wood recyclable?

You can not put wood into your home recycling bin. However, you can take your wood pieces to a household recycling center. The larger centers can collect the wood and recycle it. Wood also has the option of upscaling, when recycling is not an option. 

Are pill bottles recyclable

white pill bottle one a dark surface

Most pill bottles are recyclable. This is because they are made of polyethylene terephthalate plastic or high-density polyethylene plastic. Most curbside programs will take this. Just make sure to remove the labels before tossing them in.

Are pringles cans recyclable?

These cans can be recycled. The key to doing this, however, is to make sure that you separate the materials and then put them in the different recycle bins.

Are envelopes recyclable?

Envelopes are mostly made of paper and these are fully recyclable. Even if the envelope has a stamp or a plastic window, you can still recycle it.

Are clothes recyclable?

You can recycle clothes by using them for different purposes around the house. You can also donate them and give them to someone else who needs them. Some materials are biodegradable whilst others are not, and so the best way to recycle clothes is to find them a new use or a new home. 

Recyclable straws

You can now get straws that degrade within a few months. This means they can not be made of plastic.  A lot of fast-food chains are now resorting to these because they are kinder on the environment. 

Are photos recyclable?

Photos can not be recycled. The traditional ones at least. This is because they are required to go through a chemical process to be fully developed and printed. This can spoil the rest of the recycling batch. However, the newer photos that are printed off a soft copy, can be recycled in the same way that you recycle magazines and glossy paper. Check to make sure that your recycling program accepts mixed paper before you throw them in. 

Is vinyl recyclable?

Vinyl can be recycled up to 8 times at least. Some programs and companies are not too keen on taking it because when it is incinerated it gives off toxic gases and this is not something most companies want to have to involve themselves in. 

Is polypropylene recyclable?

Polypropylene is a recyclable thermoplastic polymer. It is used in many different products. It has a resin identification code which means that when being recycled, the instructions on how to do this are clear. 

Are plastic utensils recyclable

2 blue plastic forks

Although most plastic utensils are recyclable, they may not necessarily be recycled. This is because the costs of recycling often outweigh the benefits or profit derived from it. As such, more and more caterers are moving away from single use utensils to materials that are compostable and biodegradable.

Are tetra packs recyclable

Yes, tetra packs are recyclable. Depending on where in the world you are, they may not be as easy as you may imagine. The tetra packs that you put in the refrigerator are made out of a combination of two layers of polyethylene and a layer of paper board. Most of these packs in the US are shipped to Mexico for recycling.

Are bubble mailers recyclable

Bubble mailers can be recycled. However, they should not be put into the recycling bins that you have in your home or workplace. This is due to the fact that they are made out of combining materials that would ordinarily go into separate recycling bins. There are specific recycling programs that would accept bubble mailers.

Are hangers recyclable

Hangers come in the form of plastic, wooden and wire. Plastic hangers cannot be recycled because they are often made out of a mixture of material that is not just plastic. As such, you will often find that adding them to your plastic recycling risks contamination. 

Wood hangers are also considered to be non-recyclable. Wire hangers may be accepted at some recycling centers. However, they tend to be troublesome in the sorting process as they can easily become entangled. 

Are VHS tapes recyclable

Yes, VHS tapes are recyclable. It is worth noting that not all recycling centers will accept them. This is due to the chromium that they have in some of the ribbons. It is a toxic material that makes this material interesting to deal with. There are certain centers that will accept and recycle VHS tapes. Consult your local one to see if they take them or who does.

Is PLA recyclable

Yes, PLA is recyclable. It is a biodegradable form of plastic. What makes it slightly challenging when it comes to recycling is that its melting point differs from that of other plastics. As such, it will need to be recycled separately.

Is PVC pipe recyclable

PVC can be recycled yet is not as widely recycled. This is due to the fact that when it is burned, PVC produces a toxin called dioxin from the chlorine that it is made out of.  

Is ceramic recyclable

ceramic pottery

Yes, ceramic is recyclable. It is worth noting that based on the sizes and weight that it often comes in, it may not be the most exciting material to prepare for recycling. Recycle centres can crush the material and have it ready to be reused in paving and other similar projects. 

Are wine bottles recyclable

Yes, wine bottles are routinely recycled. You will be advised to remove the bottle cap and any other material that the bottle comes with. This reduces the risk of contamination. 

Are aerosol cans recyclable

Yes, aerosol cans are recyclable. Considering how widely used they are, it is amazing that they do not have to end up in landfills.

Is stainless steel recyclable

Stainless steel is recyclable. The process is fairly straightforward. There are no toxins to worry about in the process. 

Are prescription bottles recyclable

Prescription bottles are recyclable. Due diligence is required on your part before you add the bottle to your recycling bin. It is important that you ensure that there are no pills left in the bottle. This may result in contamination of the recycling run.

Are plastic bottle caps recyclable

Yes, plastic bottle caps are routinely recycled. They go in the same recycling bin as you would put most forms of plastic. 

Are DVDs recyclable


DVDs cannot be recycled. Although they have a significant plastic composition, they also contain other materials and chemicals that risk contaminating the recycling. The best way around this is to repurpose them in arts and craft projects, among other things. Anything to keep them out of landfill. 

Are solo cups recyclable

It’s a yes and a no. It is possible to recycle solo cups, but not all recycling plants take them. This is due to the fact that the quality of plastic used on these cups is of such a low quality that it is not easy to sell in the second hand plastic market. As such, most recycling plants will pass. There are some companies such as Tetra Pak, that recycle solo cups.

Is wax paper recyclable

This will depend on what is used to create the wax. It can be made out of vegetable wax or a paraffin petroleum. The latter is not conducive to recycling goals. Petroleum can neither be recycled or composted. You can check the composition of your wax paper to see if you have the vegetable based one that can be recycled.

Are pens recyclable

Yes, pens are recyclable. There are specific recycling programs dedicated to writing equipment. These would be the ideal place to send your pens to be recycled. 

Is polystyrene recyclable

Polystyrene is not commonly recycled. There are a few companies that offer recycling services for it. These are not targeted at the consumers. For most of us, polystyrene will end up in our waste bins, which means that it is going straight to landfill. 

Is acrylic recyclable

Yes, acrylic is recyclable. However, most recycling centres will not take it as they do not process it. There are specific recycling centers that specialise in acrylic. You will also find that there are some variants of acrylic that are easier to recycle than others. 

Is vinyl siding recyclable

Yes, vinyl siding is recyclable. It is commonly mistaken for vinyl, which is not recyclable. Vinyl siding is made to be recycled with ease. It is a durable thermoplastic.

Is cellophane recyclable

No, cellophane is not recyclable. The saving grace is that it is biodegradable. That means that even if it ends up in a landfill, it will degrade. 


We have covered a wide range of materials that are recyclable and others that are not. Having this information at your disposal allows you to make better purchasing choices. It is these small choices that make a grand impact on our environment and the planet at large. Let us know if you have any interesting ideas of how some of the non-recyclable material can be otherwise utilised. If you know of a recycling centre that takes some of the material that is harder to recycle, please let us know in the comment section.

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