Tips and Tricks for

Recycling at Home

Tips and Tricks for Recycling at Home 

For anyone looking for a resourceful and environmental method for handling waste management at home, one message has probably been made abundantly clear — recycle! Recycling has been around for years as an easy and simple means of helping the environment while also safely disposing of materials in your home.

However, many people remain unsure of exactly what recycling entails — what to recycle and how to do it. Here, we'll look at the general answers to these questions. Recycling policies vary by jurisdiction, so check with your local recycling service about what they will and won't take. 

What Should You Recycle? 

Many people think they know what goes in their recycling bin, but plenty of them still unknowingly throw certain recyclable items in the trash. Here are the main types of items that recycling services will commonly accept:

  •  Plastic bottles, jars and tubs 
  •  Cans
  •  Paper
  •  Cardboard

Additionally, the following items may be accepted, but be careful — some places require these items to be recycled through a separate process, rather than being thrown in the bin with the others: 

  •  Glass bottles and containers 
  •  Aluminum foil 
  •  Single-use batteries 
  •  E-waste 

What Shouldn't You Recycle? 

In contrast to the above list, you can find many items that people commonly believe can be recycled, but can't. This misconception frequently happens because an item has the recycling symbol on it or is made of plastic.

Not all plastic items are recyclable — far from it. Likewise, somewhat confusingly, an item may not be recyclable even if the company has stamped the "chasing arrows" recycling symbol on the bottom. Don't rely solely on factors like these to determine whether you should recycle something.

Instead, look at the shape of the item — clean bottles and cans will usually be recyclable, while bags and wraps won't be. As a quick guide to help you with some of these decisions, here are some of the things you shouldn't try recycling:

  •  Plastic bags
  •  Plastic or bubble wrap 
  •  Flexible packaging 
  •  Medical waste 
  •  Garage waste 
  •  Styrofoam 
  •  Mirror glass 
  •  Scrap wood 
  •  Cleaning products 

This list isn't comprehensive. Many other things shouldn't be recycled — these are just some of the ones people most often get confused about. Still other items, such as aerosol cans, are usually not recyclable but can be under special circumstances. It all depends on where you live, so be sure to check. 


Keep Items Clean

Don't Bag Items

Keep out Non-Recyclables

Properly Dispose of Special Items

Safely Recycle E-Waste

How Can You Recycle? 

Once you know what to recycle, the question becomes how to recycle it. How do you get your recyclable products from your home to the recycling plant? Usually, your local recycling service will provide you with a bin to put your items in, which they'll pick up periodically.

But what condition should they be in before you put them in the bin? And what items might you need to recycle through a different process? The answer, again, can vary from place to place, but here are some general tips for recycling at home. 

Keep Items Clean

Never throw dirty items in the recycling bin, particularly those that have food on them. For containers that previously held food or drink, make sure they're relatively clean before recycling them. You don't have to scrub them until they're spotless, but you shouldn't leave them with food smeared across them.

This guideline is particularly true when it comes to things like pizza boxes and aluminum foil, which people don't often think to clean. Be sure to rinse off all your aluminum foil before disposing of it. Pizza boxes are made of cardboard but are usually too covered in grease and bits of food to be recyclable.

Don't Bag Items 

It can be tempting to put small bottles and things together in plastic bags. But no matter how annoying it can seem to have all your items loose in your bin, don't put any of them in bags. Since plastic bags can't be recycled, putting your items in them will probably cause the recycling service to discard them. 

Keep out Non-Recyclables 

It might seem like a given not to put trash in the recycling bin, but many people do it anyway. People often think that it's not a big deal because the recycling service will just separate them. Sometimes this thought process happens because someone isn't sure if something is recyclable or not, so they'll put it in the bin just in case it is, thinking they're being helpful.

But this mindset stems from a false conception of how the recycling service works. Putting non-recyclables in the bin will contaminate the recyclables. The recycling service won't simply remove the inappropriate items and recycle the rest — they'll throw it all out. If you're unsure about whether something can be recycled, ask your recycling service, or throw it in the trash. 

Properly Dispose of Special Items 

As previously mentioned, certain items — such as glass, tin foil and single-use batteries — may not go in the recycling bin, despite being recyclable. For these items, check with your recycling service. Some programs will take them in the recycling bin just like anything else, while some will have you set them to the side or put them in a special container for curbside pickup. Still others will require you to take them to special drop-off sites — and some may not take them at all. 

Safely Recycle E-Waste 

E-waste — parts from computers, fax machines, cables, cell phones, and so on — is rarely accepted by mainstream recycling services. But it can still be recycled! It can be harmful to the environment to throw it in the trash. Whenever possible, it's a good idea to keep using your devices as long as you can. Instead of buying a new computer, for instance, see about refurbishing your old one. When you do eventually dispose of electronics, though, take them to a specialized e-waste recycler in your area.

Where Can You Go
to Recycle E-Waste?

Where Can You Go to Recycle E-Waste? 

Unlike mainstream recycling organizations, electronic recycling services can be hard to find. But when you get a new phone, you'll need a safe way to dispose of your old one rather than tossing it in the trash or sticking it in a drawer somewhere.

Instead, stop by an ecoATM kiosk in your area. We've got thousands of kiosks set up across the United States. We safely dispose of your device, and we pay you for it! Simply find the ecoATM location closest to you, and drop by the next time you're out to see your e-waste properly recycled.