What you can, and what you can’t recycle

recycleRecycling is the first place to start when you want to do more for the environment at home. But its easy to look at different items and not know weather or not you can recycle it.

Besides keeping valuable materials out of landfills, recycling conserves natural resources. It saves energy and lowers greenhouse gas emissions. And it provides industry with affordable resources for manufacturing new products. 

In general, the materials below are accepted in many recycling programs. But some items don’t belong in your recycling bin at all. Below are some “do’s and don’ts” for successful recycling.

Paper and Cardboard

  • Corrugated cardboard (boxes)
  • Magazines
  • Office paper (all colors)
  • Newspapers
  • Paperboard (cereal boxes)
  • Paper cardboard dairy/juice cartons
  • Unsolicited direct mail (even window envelopes are okay)
  • Phone books


  • Waxed paper
  • Food-contaminated paper (such as a cheese-encrusted pizza box)
  • Mixed metal and paper (like stapled paper – just remove the staple and the paper can be recycled)



  • Aluminum cans
  • Foil and aluminum bakeware
  • Steel cans and tins (rinsed-out soup cans, veggie cans, coffee cans, etc.)
  • Wire coat hangers
  • Empty aerosol cans


  • Food-contaminated metals (like a half-eaten can of beans – rinse out the beans and the can is good to recycle!)
  • Automotive parts
  • Plumbing parts
  • Paint cans with wet or dried-on paint
  • Electronics



  • Clear glass (rinsed mayonnaise containers, pasta sauces, pickle jars, etc.)
  • Brown amber glass typically used for beer
  • Green bottles typically used for wine


  • Any glass contaminated with stones, dirt and food waste
  • Ceramics, such as dishware, ovenware, and decorative items
  • Heat-resistant glass, such as Pyrex
  • Mixed colors of broken glass
  • Mirror or window glass
  • Metal or plastic caps, corks or lids
  • Crystal
  • Light bulbs
  • Cathode-ray tubes (CRTs) found in some televisions and computer monitors


The Plastic Recycling Code

How can you tell whether to put a plastic container into your recycling bin? Turn the product over and look for the recycling symbol, a triangle with a number from 1 to 7 inside. That number is the “resin identification code,” or RIC. Each number represents a different type of plastic, and some are more easily recycled than others.

To learn more about other plastic codes, visit http://www.thinkgreen.com/.

Typical Dos

  • Make sure it’s clean! Does that peanut butter jar still have some remnants sticking to the side? Don’t recycle it until it’s clean!
  • Products labeled Code 1 and Code 2 are widely accepted at recycling facilities. These typically include soft drink and soda bottles; plastics from cereal boxes; containers for salad dressing, vegetable oil, and peanut butter; oven-ready meal trays; butter and margarine tubs; and containers for laundry detergent and some household cleaners.

Typical Don’ts

  • Municipalities differ on whether to accept products labelled with Code 4 and Code 5. These typically include squeezable bottles, bread wrappers, frozen food bags, dry cleaning bags, yogurt containers, syrup bottles, ketchup bottles, some straws, and prescription bottles.
  • Plastic grocery and produce sacks are commonly, but not always, made from plastic types 2 or 4. These bags are often collected in barrels at grocery stores.
  • Products labeled with Code 3, 6, or 7 are less-often accepted for recycling. These typically include window cleaner and dishwashing detergent bottles, some shampoo bottles, cooking oil bottles, clear food packaging, plastics used in most blister packs, disposable coffee cups, polystyrene, plastic egg cartons, aspirin bottles, and compact disc cases.

Garden Waste

In Victoria we have a separate bin for garden waste, but its still important to note what can go in the bin and what cannot.

  • Cut grass/lawn clippings
  • Flower and tree trimmings
  • Weeds
  • Wood scraps/chips


  • Soil
  • Animal waste
  • Food waste or food scraps
  • Meat, fish or bones
  • Diseased plants

About Kathryn

Hello and welcome to the Brick Road Creative Studios blog! My name is Kathryn, feel free to take a look around. I hope you find some helpful and inspiring bits and pieces here.
This entry was posted in Being Green, Organising and Cleaning, Savvy Saver, Self Improvement, Tutorials and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to What you can, and what you can’t recycle

  1. Michelle says:

    Nice post. I was just washing out a peanut butter jar tonight and I wondered exactly how clean is clean? Glad I’m not the only one trying to recycle as MUCH as possible 🙂

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