Receipts, kitchen roll, and glasses among things you SHOULDN’T be putting in the recycling

Receipts, kitchen roll, and glasses among things you SHOULDN’T be putting in the recycling

Public interest and engagement in recycling has surged during the pandemic, with 145,000 tonnes of aluminium packaging collected in 2020. These figures represent a 24% increase from 2019 levels and exceed the 2020 target by 26%1.

Despite the success however, the UK still sees large quantities of recycling rejected due to contamination or being put in the wrong bin. This saw over 500,000 tonnes of recycling rejected in 20192.

To help emphasise the importance of responsible recycling, online metals supplier, metals4U, has revealed 10 surprising things that you often can’t recycle at home:

  1. Receipts

Despite being paper, receipts should never be placed into the recycling because they are coated with a substance that contains harmful chemicals5. If getting an email receipt is an option then this should be taken instead of a paper receipt, though if needed then once finished with, these should be placed into the usual rubbish bin.

  1. Kitchen roll

It was reported that a third of Brits think that kitchen roll can be recycled3, but this unfortunately isn't the case. Despite it being made of paper, putting this into the recycling will contaminate the rest of the waste, as it is extremely hard to be separated from other items, as well as being unpleasant for the recycling sorters due to the nature of how kitchen roll is used. Kitchen roll and napkins however can be composted, so if there is a compost bin in your home, putting paper including kitchen roll in this will be beneficial.

  1. Glass

Since most areas have a separate glass recycling bin then it is often assumed that all glass can be put into these bins. However household objects including drinks glasses, dishes, candle jars, mirrors and lightbulbs should not be put into these bins. Bottles are usually fine alone with food jars, if they have been rinsed out and clean, though it is best to check on the local council’s website to be sure.

  1. Unwashed tins and cans

Though drinks cans and food tins are some of the most recyclable products in our cupboards, not giving them a good wash before popping them into the recycle bin will mean that the entire contents of these bins will be sent to landfill.

  1. Plastic bags

Most people use bin liners for their rubbish bin, and if a separate recycling bin is used then it will most likely be lined with one of these plastic liners. However, these cannot be recycled, so any recycling inside a plastic bin liner must be removed before putting into the large recycling bin.

  1. Sticky tape

Sticky tape that many parcels, presents and other things are taped up with isn’t recyclable, so if wrapping paper or parcel boxes are going into the recycling bin, all of this tape must be removed first, or it will risk contaminating the items in the bin.

  1. Takeaway containers

Items with grease and food residue on will contaminate your recycling bin so are best left out and disposed of in the general rubbish. This includes pizza boxes and other takeaway containers, even if they are made from recyclable materials, such as cardboard. This also includes salad bags, which are made from many different plastics and should be placed in general waste.

  1. Hangers

Despite many clothes hangers being made of metal, wood or plastic, which are materials that are often placed into recycling bins, they will also include other materials so therefore can’t be recycled and should be either reused or placed in the bin.

  1. Plastic packaging

Some items used for packaging, such as styrofoam and bubble wrap, are big recycling no goes. Styrofoam is made of polystyrene, which isn’t biodegradable, and the thin film on bubble wrap can get stuck in the recycling machines4. However, both items can be recycled in specialist locations, so it is best to search in your local area, especially if you have just moved home and have a lot of these materials.

  1. Long wires

Anything that can get tangled in the machines or around other recycled materials should never be placed into these bins. Items such as cords, garden hoses, chains, wires or Christmas lights will get caught in machinery and can even end up breaking equipment, which is a huge hassle for recycling workers.

Paul McFadyen, managing director of metals4U, said: “Recycling is something that more and more people want to get involved in, but sometimes we aren’t aware what can and can’t go into the recycling bins. It’s always best to check packaging labels to be sure, especially as some items have both recycled and non-recycled parts so may have to be separated.

“When we talk about recycling, it’s often plastic that takes centre stage, however the truth is that despite the large percentage of aluminium products that are being recycled, we can do, and need to do better. Making sure cans and tins are always washed out and then recycled helps us to do our bit."

For more information and tips on recycling, visit: