You might have the best of intentions, but these common items shouldn’t go in the recycling bin.

In Things You May Not Recycle but Should we described a range of items – everything from batteries to mattresses – that many people don’t realize can be recycled. Now, here are some things that are not recyclable and that you should never put in your bin. If you’ve been recycling any of them, don’t feel bad. After all, we’re all trying to do our best. Recycling rules can be complex and can vary by location, so it’s best to check with your municipality. We hope this article helps you to be an even more conscientious recycler.

Bubble Wrap®

bubble wrapSure it’s fun to pop, but that’s where the positives end when it comes to bubble wrapping. The plastic it’s made of is not recyclable and will end up in a landfill. Some facilities might accept it, but it’s best to avoid it whenever possible.

Clothes hangers

clothes hanger metal

Did you know that wire hangers usually aren’t made of pure metal and plastic hangers aren’t always made of pure plastic? Neither type is recyclable. If you’re replacing old hangers that are still in good working condition, consider donating them to a local thrift shop.

Pizza boxes

pizza box used

Cardboard pizza boxes might seem perfect to recycle, and technically they are. But if there is even a smidge of grease or any crumbs on a pizza box it belongs in the compost. You could also consider making your pizza at home!

Pyrex® dishware


It may look and feel like glass, but it’s not. Dishware of this type has been chemically treated to withstand high temperatures, which changes the composition of the glass making it not recyclable. What to do if it’s broken, cracked or chipped? Unfortunately it belongs in the garbage.

Plastic bottle caps

bottle caps

Plastic water bottles can go in the recycling bin, but for years we’ve been told to remove the plastic caps first. This is changing though, and some municipalities no longer require cap removal. It’s best to check with your municipality to see what their policy is when it comes to plastic caps. Of course, a better alternative is to avoid plastic water bottles and only use a reusable water bottle.

Paper products, such as paper towels, napkins and Kleenex®

used paper

The pizza box approach applies here as well. Paper towel and similar products are often contaminated with dirt, food or grease and can go in the compost.

Toothbrushes and empty toothpaste containers

used toothbrush

Your plastic toothbrush might seem recyclable, but it’s not. If you throw it in the recycling bin, the recycling facility will sort it and throw it in the trash. Same goes for plastic toothpaste containers. Neither is recyclable and both add an unnecessary burden in recycling facilities. Fortunately, some brands have started selling toothpaste in biodegradable tubes – do a little research for nearby availability. And the next time you need a new toothbrush, consider an eco-friendly one made of bamboo!

Unrinsed containers

used condiment container

To maximize the amount of material that a facility recycles, it’s important to rinse out containers before throwing them in your blue bin. This includes cans as well as plastic and glass containers. Containers don’t need to be spotless—just a quick rinse in the sink to remove most of the food or debris should do!

We hope this helps the next time you’re deciding what products to buy and what to put in your recycling bin. Of course, the best way to ensure these items don’t end up in the landfill is to avoid any unnecessary purchases and use eco-friendly alternatives.

Did we miss something that is often thrown in the recycling bin but shouldn’t be? Let us know in the comments below. Also, be sure to check out our first article “Things You May Not Recycle but Should.”