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You’ve been doing your bins wrong – the most common items that CAN’T be put in your recycling

RECYCLING can be a confusing task with so many different types of materials and items going in and out of your household bins.

Even though it can be difficult to remember the do’s and don’ts, recycling has a big impact on the environment so it’s important to get it right.

None of these six items should go in your green recyling bin

Just one individual or family can have a big difference on the environment by making a small change like recycling household items.

Last month we reported that a study of 2,000 adults found that 55% are still very unclear about what can be collected, and what can’t.

Items likely to be popped into the rubbish bin include bulbs, compost, and grass clippings.

While others don’t think to recycle magazines, envelopes or aluminium foil – all of which can be easily recycled.

Three in 10 adults often find items they have put in their recycling boxes are still there after the collection has taken place – as they weren’t deemed suitable.

You can look up specifically what can go in your area’s green recycling bins on your local council website.

But here we take a look at 15 commonly-recycled things are not generally suitable for household recycling bins.

Dirty pizza boxes

You can usually recycle carboard so there can be some confusion when it comes to pizza boxes.

But anything with excess food, drink or ingrained stains like grease cannot generally be recycled.

This means that unless your pizza box is squeaky clean with no melted cheese, crumbs, or tomato, it should be put in the general rubbish bin.

It is best to check with your local authority whether they accept them as part of their recycling collection.

Plastic shopping bags

There’s a reason why most major supermarkets have stopped supplying single-use plastic shopping bag.

The bags take hundreds of years to decompose because the plastic is not biodegradable.

So if you have any plastic shopping bags, you could keep onto them and take them on your next shop.

Otherwise they will have to go in the normal rubbish bin.

Takeaway coffee cups

Even though coffee cups look like cardboard, they don’t usually belong in the green recycling bin.

Many are made using a combination of paper and plastic to keep heat in and prevent leaking.

Next time, ask your coffee shop if they have a cup recycling scheme otherwise you could invest in a reusable cup.

Polystyrene foam

Anything made from polystyrene should not go in the recycling bin as the material is not biodegradable.

All polystyrene should be thrown into the general rubbish bin.

There is not much you can do to avoid this waste other than avoid buying products with polystyrene packaging and using environmentally-friendly alternatives if you need to.

Bin bags

Black bin liners should not go in the recycling bins – they can’t be recycled.

Even if you use them to gather up your recyclable items, you should not leave them in your green recycling bin as the black pigment apparently affects how the sorting systems at recycling centres work.

Instead, empty out your recycling into the green bin and put the black bin back in the general waste.

Aerosol cans

Unlike normal food and drink cans, aerosol cans generally should not be recycled.

Whether they contain whipped cream or hazardous liquid like spray paint, the pressurised air inside the cans makes them difficult to recycle.

But, some councils do allow you to throw your empty aerosols in your recycling if they’re completely empty – make sure to check with your local council.

This means you should stick to the general bins for aerosol cans.


While you can recycle a lot of clothes, old towels and bedding, they don’t belong in your recycle bins.

Instead they should be taken to a local thrift store or a shelter if they are in decent condition.

Some clothing brands like Patagonia take old clothes back for reuse – so check online whether that is the case with brands before chucking anything into the general waste.

Crisp and sweet packets

Not all crisp and sweet packaging can be recycled, as they may be made of multiple and non-recyclable materials.

Anything that is classed as “multi-layer flexible packaging” can’t be recycled.

If you see this label, don’t put it in the green bin.

Alternatively, some supermarkets like Tesco now have crisp packet recycling points.

Bubble wrap

While some plastics can be recycled, the particular kind of plastic bubble wrap is made from cannot be.

This is because the thin film can tangle in recycling machines.

Don’t put bubble wrap in the green bin but you can think about keeping and reusing it where possible.

Scrap wood

Recycling wood is complicated since pieces with any kind of finishing – vanish, wax, paint, wood treatment – cannot be recycled.

Untreated wood may be recyclable but you should still not put it in your green bin.

Instead, you can take it to a wood recycling specialist or contact a Community Wood Recycling.

Face masks and PPE

Disposable face coverings should not be put in household recycling.

If you must dispose of a mask, make sure you cut the ear strings off so that small animals won’t become tangled in them later down the line.

The best option to reduce this waste, however, is to opt for a reusable mask that you can wash regularly.

Pringle cans

Pringles cans cannot be recycled at all as there are so many different materials making up each can, including plastic, metal and cardboard.

Make sure you don’t put them in your household green recycling bin.

However, the company does outline options for the cans to be recycled on its website.

Glittery wrapping paper

Normal wrapping paper can be put in your green recycling bin at home.

However, this can cause confusion as any paper made with foil, glitter or has tape still stuck to it, cannot be put in the green bin.

If there is any ribbon or tape left on normal wrapping paper, make sure you remove it before scrunching it up in a ball and putting i t in the recycling.

Kitchen roll

Paper towels should not be put in the recycling bin despite many people doing it.

This is because they often have food or other residue on them that can contaminate other recyclables.

Paper towels are also likely to have already been recycled and their fibres are too short to go through the process again.

The cardboard tube at the centre of kitchen or toilet roll can be recycled, however.

Plastic straws

You should never put plastic straws in your recycling bins at home.

Even though they are plastic, they are so small that they often fall out of the sorting process.

Plastic straws aren’t for the recycling, even though they’re plastic.

They’ve now been banned in the UK full stop, and people are urged to use paper alternatives instead.

Elsewhere, the Sun’s Green Team reveals top tips on how to save the planet and £1,800 at the same time.

It comes as motor industry experts say drivers will need to pay for every mile they drive to pay for net zero government plans.

Meanwhile, when it comes to combating climate change, we share how small ­firms are making a mighty difference.

Meanwhile, as Christmas approaches we have listed all of the major supermarkets that are not selling glittery wrapping paper this year.

The move also includes cards, anything that contains glitter, as retailers aim to deliver a more eco-friendly Christmas.

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