Let's face it, we've all used and disposed of some of these items, if not all of them at least once. Some of which you probably think are recyclable, but in fact could hinder the process and cause more harm than good.
Here is a list of items that can't actually be recycled, and what you can do to help:
1. Take-away coffee cups
The cardboard coffee cup you get on your way to work may seem recyclable and eco friendly even, but did you know that the grand majority of these cups can't be recycled?
The reason being, they are usually coated with a thin layer of plastic on the inside to make the cup watertight, and the separation process is too complicated and costly to warrant turning the cup into something new at a grand scale.
So what can you do about this? There are two options here. Number one is to make sure the coffee cup the shop gives you is in fact recyclable and eco-friendly. When a cup is biodegradable, it usually doesn't contain any layers of plastic.
The second option is to simply use a reusable cup! Most coffee shops like Starbucks and Costa Coffee will refill a reusable cup for you, and sometimes give a discount for doing so! So not only are you helping save the environment, you're saving money too. Feel free to check out our reusable coffee cups and bottles for a more eco friendly solution.
2. Used pizza boxes
We all love a takeaway pizza from time to time, and it's easy to throw the cardboard box into paper recycle and think nothing more of it. But did you know that once used, pizza boxes are too hard to be given a new use? Because in the recycling process of paper, it doesn't get heated, and any contaminants such as oil and grease could contaminate that batch.
In this case, the best thing you can do to help is recycle the top half of the pizza container that doesn't usually get stained with oil, and throw away the bottom half, that will eventually turn into compost.
3. Dirty Plastic
It's very easy to eat a yogurt or any other food item and throw the wrapper, pot or container in the recycle and not think more of it. It's going to get recycled right?
Wrong. In most cases, plastic containers that have too much dirt incrusted can't be put into the recycle process and get turned away, ending up in landfills and often back in the ocean. There is only so much dirt a recycling plant can remove, and any dirt that has been stuck for an extended period of time is too hard to get rid of.
You can increase the chances of your plastic waste being recycled by rinsing them before putting them in the bin.
4. Plastics marked as "Other"
The next time you use a plastic product, flip it over and check the bottom. Most of the time you will see a recyclable symbol with a number from 1 to 7. If it has a number 7, it is classed as other, and is not suitable to be recycled. This is because they use a mix of different plastics and chemicals that are too complex to separate.
The best option in this case is simply avoiding products marked with a 7 or "Other".
5. Tissue paper
Once they come into contact with food stuffs, grease and oil or bodily fluids, tissue paper is considered contaminated and is no longer recyclable. Adding them to your other recycling paper could contaminate the entire batch, so it's important to throw any used tissue paper into the waste bin, as it will decompose easily, and avoid contaminating other paper recyclables.
6. Mirrors & household glass
Because of their different chemical compositions and melting points, mirrors and household panes of glass are not compatible with glass bottles and jars, and are often not accepted by many recycling plants.
For mirrors and panes of glass, consider selling or donating them if they're in a good condition, rather than throwing it away. You can also check with your local recycling plant to find out if they accept these kinds of items.
7. Wrapping paper
Any shiny or glittery wrapping paper can't be recycled, as it contains contaminants that will affect the recycling process. Consider using eco friendly wrapping paper, or other means of concealing presents. Treehugger have written an interesting article on wrapping paper alternatives.
8. Sticky tape & adhesive paper
The majority of recycling plants won't accept anything with sticky tape on it as the plastic is not recyclable and can prevent paper from being properly mulched. Next time you recycle cards or cardboard boxes, make sure you remove any sticky tape before putting it in the recycle bin. Another option is to use eco friendly sticky tape that will biodegrade when you throw it in the waste bin.
9. Shredded paper
Recycling plants have a hard time with shredded paper because of the difficulty involved in sorting the recyclable paper from non recyclable material. Shredded paper can also potentially clog up the machinery and can be difficult to handle.
Consider sending your shredded paper to the compost or general waste bin instead.
There are just some of the items that can't be recycled, but there's always a way around to tackle the plastic problem. Feel free to check out our collection of eco friendly products to help reduce your plastic footprint and save our precious planet.