Coffee Cups? Pizza Boxes? Surprizing Things You Cannot Recycle

Everybody loves recycling. Everyone goes mad for it. But people are stupid. They think they can recycle anything and everything. You cannot. Some crazy person put a used paper coffee cup in the recycling bin at my workplace the other day.

Madness. Sheer madness.

From Greenpeace themselves: “Coffee cups are…not recycled. Every plastic coffee cup used is made of virgin polymer; ‘recycling’ does not reduce the quantity of oil used to make new coffee cups.” The environmental solution is to use a real mug. If you want to read more about Greenpeace’s stance on coffee cups, go to this site here.

Pizza boxes, tissues, yoghurt cartons. If people bothered to find out what they can and cannot recycle, the world would be a better place. Really, the best tip with recycling is:

To Reduce Your Consumption

Now, I am actually not a great recycler. I do the bare minimum but I can sleep at night because I don’t litter and I try to keep my consumption low. I recently stopped going to Subway for the veggie subs because I hated seeing all the paper and plastic that was left over after I was finished my meal.

Other things you CANNOT recycle

1. Pizza boxes and used take-away food containers

this is a photo of pizza boxes

Think about it. They are covered in food scraps and cannot be cleaned. Food contaminates the recyclable materials. Also, according to RiverWired, “wet or greasy cardboard can jam recycling machines so it is best to let the cardboard dry out before recycling and to protect it from rainfall while waiting for curbside pick-up.”

2. Styrofoam and packaging supplies

this is a photo of styrofoam

All that crap your new TV came in? Can’t be recycled. That stuff finds its way back to the ocean and forms debris like the giant floating Garbage Patch. This Styrofoam gets broken down and down until it’s just tiny little balls of material that take ages to break down naturally. Try to avoid buying anything that is served or packed in Styrofoam.

3. Napkins and paper towels

Yup, I see this one all the time. Use your noggins, people! How do you think your old tissues can be recycled? They can’t! There is too much chance of contamination and the material simply breaks down too quickly. They are revolting and I hated seeing them, touching them or washing them when I lived with my ex but HANKIE are an environmentally safer solution.

4. Yoghurt pots

Buy yoghurt in bigger tubs, not individual serves, or better yet – make your own yoghurt. I have to admit I have never done this but when I turn into a crazy old lady, yoghurt-making is top of my ‘to do’ list.

5. Wire hangers

Ugh, I hate these things. There is nothing you can do with them apart from pass them on or make other items out of them – both solutions being practically useless. These environmental hazards can even be dangerous for recycling centres to handle.

6. Light bulbs and ceramics

this is a photo of light globe

These are dangerous and should not be put into the recycling bin. Apart from making mosaics out of your old, broken ceramics, there’s not much you can do – unless other bloggers have any ideas to share? Please comment if you do.

A final note on recycling

Please check with your local area’s council or government department as to what the recycling services are in your area, ads they vary. For example, in my home town of Sydney City – up until recently our local council (Sydney City Council) asked us to separate our glass, paper and plastic – now they want you to put it ALL in the one bin and NOT separate it.

It’s important to do as they say – because they are letting you know the most efficient methods of getting the material to their contractors.

What have I missed? What else can you / can’t you recycle?


  1. June 17, 2013

    Never knew….. this is educative, Thanks for posting

    1. June 18, 2013

      Thanks Kim – there are lots of resources online too. Thansk for your comment!

  2. Pingback: How Attitudes Towards Recycling Are Changing

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