Surprising items that aren't meant to be recycled

When it comes to recycling, choosing the correct bin might often seem like a no-brainer, but there’s every chance you’re doing it wrong.  

Whether it’s throwing your wine bottle with the lid still on it or leaving that unwanted crust in your pizza box, recyclable packaging can easily end up in landfill if it’s not disposed of correctly.

While the majority of the packaging may seem recyclable, items like tissue boxes that contain both cardboard and plastic film can cause some confusion.

A spokesperson for Organic Recycling Group told Yahoo7 News that there were misconceptions as to what you can get away with when it comes to food packaging.

“The pizza box is one of those questionable items, the fact is that if there are food scraps left in it will be contaminated,” he said.

There is some confusion as to what can and can’t be recycled. Source: AAP

City of Sydney Council’s waste strategy manager Kath McLaughlin told Yahoo7 News that the biggest mistake homeowners make is placing all their recyclables in a plastic bag before putting it in the yellow bin.

“When it comes to what you can recycle, plastics, glass or metal contaniers that are designed to be of single use can usually be recycled, you just have to make sure it is relatively dry and empty as a general rule,” she said.

“Where it does get confusing is that people separate all their waste and recycling, clean it, then place it in a great big plastic bag, tie it up and put it in the recycling.”

She said there is a manual sorter but they will not touch the plastic bag if they can’t see what is in there, so all the recyclable items would just end up in landfill.

Greasy pizza boxes can be recycled but need to be cleared of all food scraps. Source: Getty

Items that CAN be recycled 

Newspapers and magazines – staples are fine

Tissue boxes – Remove plastic film

Greasy fast food packaging / food scraps– Make a judgement call, if there is a tiny bit of grease on your pizza box or KFC box, it can potentially still be recycled, but not if it is still filled with food scraps.

Advertising material – remove plastic wrap

Phone books – Fine to be recycled

Egg cartons – remove and discard shells

Your empty beer and wine bottles can be recycled. Source: Getty

Envelopes – even those with clear plastic windows

Aluminium and steel tins/cans – emptied and rinsed

Aerosol cans – Fine to be recycled

Glass bottles and jars – emptied, rinsed and lids removed

Juice and milk cartons and bottles – emptied, rinsed and lids removed

Items that CAN’T be recycled

Clothes, fabrics, textiles — Can contaminate process and disturb machinery

Pringles tin – Composite items like your tin of deliciousness that contain metal parts, carboard and plastic are encouraged to be split up and disposed of accordingly.

Plastic bags – Contaminate recycling and jam machinery

Composite packaging items like Pringles can’t be recycled unless they are broken apart and disposed of accordingly. Source: Getty

Nappies – Contaminate recycling process and jam machinery

BatteriesRecycle any rechargeable and non-rechargeable AA, AAA, C, D or 9V battery at an ALDI store near you or find out when the next e-waste day is.

Polystyrene – Items such as meat trays and foam packaging should be placed in the garbage bin

Used tissue — While they may seem recyclable, they can contaminate the process

Light globes, mirrors and window glass – Garbage bin (red lid)

Crockery, drinking glasses and Pyrex – Garbage bin (red lid)

What do I do with my unwatned plastic bags?

While Coles and Woolworths have ramped up their respective wars on plastic by removing single-use plastic bags from their supermarkets, there’s no doubt some shoppers have been left with a cupboard full of them.

You can recycle soft plastics like bread bags, biscuit and confectionery packets, frozen food / rice / pasta bags, plastic bags and even old reusable bags at Coles by dropping them into the REDcycle collection bin at the supermarket. Your empty packaging will be recycled into useful new products like outdoor furniture.

Source: City of NSW