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While home recycling takes very little time, it can significantly benefit the homeowner and the environment. 

Paper and cardboard


Newspapers should always be kept in their bin since this material is used for newsprint recycling. A four-foot stack newspaper can be recycled to save the equivalent of one 40-foot fir tree.

Other Paper

You can save magazines, glossy printed flyers, newspaper inserts, and phone books in one bin. You can use staples made of paper, but you should remove any rubber bands or wraps. You should not include carbon paper, stickers, or cardboard in your paper recycling.

Plastic-Lined Drink Cartons made of Paper

Recyclable plastic-lined paper drink Cartons These items are accepted by most recycling centers. Ask your local representative. You can throw away plastic wrappers, napkins, or paper tissues stained with food or made of paper.

Cardboard corrugated

Highly recyclable corrugated cardboard is highly sought after. Most curbside collectors require you to tie the cardboard with string and bale it together. You should check to make sure there are weight and size restrictions on how much cardboard you can bale together. It is important to dry it. Plastic, waxy, coated, wet, or greased cardboard (such as pizza boxes) cannot be recycled. It clogs sorting machinery.


Plastic doesn’t break down in landfills. Because plastic can be recycled into many different products, it should always be recycled. Plastics can be reused and recycled in the most efficient ways. This is why consumers should select recyclable plastics. Learn more about recycling options for different types of plastics in our article Plastics By the Numbers.

There are many types of plastic that recycling centers accept. You can check with your local recycling center to ensure you only purchase recyclable plastic products.

Plastic Goods

To grade plastic goods for recycling, they are assigned different numbers: #1 (PET), #2 (HDPE), #4 (LDPE) for bags, and #7 for mixed plastics like polycarbonates, which are not recyclable. Plastics #1 and #2 are accepted by almost all recycling centers.

Plastic bottles

#1 PET plastic is a popular recyclable material. This plastic can be used to make fleece fabric. You should remove the tops before you recycle them. The #7 polycarbonate plastic baby bottles are not recyclable. PET bottles should not be recycled because cleaning them without releasing toxic chemicals is difficult.

Plastic grocery bags

High-density polyethylene is a recyclable plastic of Type 2. Groceries bags are most commonly made from them. Many grocery stores and recycling centers now offer bins that customers can use to drop off their used plastic bags for recycling.


Polystyrene (#6) (cups, food trays, egg cartons, etc.) does not biodegrade. Ask your recycling center if they accept polystyrene. Many accept it. Reduce your consumption of this material.


You can recycle Glass according to its color: clear, yellow, or brown. This is the preferred method of glass separation by recycling centers. These types of Glass are collectively known as “container glass” and are widely accepted for recycling. You can leave paper labels on the Glass.

Lightbulbs and sheet glasses should be stored separately from bottles. They have different melting points and compositions and are not accepted at many recycling centers.

You can recycle compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) at your local IKEA.

Aluminium, Steel, and Copper

Food cans

You should rinse food cans and take off the labels and lids. Although many cans are not easy to flatten, it helps.

Aluminum Cans

As recyclable materials, aluminum cans are extremely valuable. Many recycling centers ask that they not be crushed flat. You can check locally. Aluminum foil and foil packaging can also be recycled. They are used to make aluminum mechanical components such as engine parts.

Aerosol cans and paint cans

Aerosol and paint cans can be recycled, but they are hazardous waste that must be kept from other metals. These cans should be labeled as recyclers will need to know the contents. Return the lids and empty paint cans.


Copper is among the most recyclable and recycled metals. Copper is 100% recyclable, as well as all of its alloys, like bronze or brass. Recycling copper takes only 15% of the energy in mining, milling, and smelting.

Electronic Goods

Hardware, Printers, and Computers

It is easiest to recycle your computer by passing it on. You can offer your computer for free at your local school or on a bulletin board in your community. Many people can still use the word processor or basic programs even if they don’t have a computer.

Working computers can be donated to The National Cristina Foundation in the USA. This non-profit organization provides computers for students at risk and people with disabilities. You can have your old computer equipment collected by HP Recycle for a small fee. HP Recycle offers several ‘coupon’ points that can be used towards future purchases.

HP and other printer manufacturers will now accept used cartridges. Many printer manufacturers now accept used cartridges.

Cell phones

  • EcoATM offers money for cell phones that have been used. It is located in the US at an automated kiosk.
  • ECOCELL partners to assemble, refurbish, and resell broken cell phones to developing countries that need cell phone technology.
  • Call2Recycle provides free recycling services for cell phones, and batteries gathered in the USA and Canada.
  • RecyclemycellGo Resell are Canadian cell phone recycling services.

You can also return packaging from electronic devices (including cell phones) to retailers like London Drugs and Best Buy. These stores collect used electronics purchased at kiosks on-site in US stores.

“Commingled Recycling at Home

A new recycling program is being used by some communities called “commingling”. Most recyclable materials can be placed in one large container without any sorting. The recyclers do the sorting. The blue cart can hold tin, aluminum, plastic, and all types of paper, including newspapers and junk mail.

However, some materials still need special handling. Glass should be separated by color using paper bags. This is why most people use the blue recycling box. Motor oil should still be stored in a non-glass container. The lid must be securely screwed shut, and the label must clearly state that it is used. These items can be taken out of your recycling cart separately.

Other exceptions are fluorescent light bulbs, styrofoam, and electronics, which can’t be mixed.

Recycle at Home

Store Bins

A well-designed storage bin system is key to a successful home recycling program. After you have learned which materials are accepted at your local recycling center, create a storage bin system. A garage is a great place to store the bins. If you have an open carport, cover the lids to protect the contents from wind and pests. Recycling is simple once you have your system in place.

Use plastic bags or totes.

To store recyclable materials, you can use plastic bags and totes. Paper bags are susceptible to leakage and can easily be ripped. Use smaller containers to make it easier to lift them when they are full.

Label Recycling Bins

Use label recycling bins to make sure materials are properly separated.

Select products with the highest percentage of “Post-Consumer Recycled Content.”

Packaging and manufacturing products are made from two types of recycled material:

  1. Pre-Consumer, or mill scraps, are internal materials recycled at manufacturing plants.
  2. Post-Consumer This is material that consumers return to the manufacturing process through recycling programs.

Tins and clean bottles

Before you put them in the recycling bin, clean out all tins and bottles. This will prevent flies at both the home and the recycling station.

Put a “No Junk Mail” sticker on your letterbox.

It will amaze you at the amount of rubbish that this can reduce.

Get involved in the Freecycle(TM).

It’s simple. You give away what you don’t use and get what you need. This “freecycle” of goods helps keep valuable stuff out of landfills and encourages local recycling for more information. 

Close the Loop: Recycle!

Market demand determines the value of recyclables. We as consumers must select products made with recycled content and packaged using recycled materials so that markets can sustain the material we have recycled.

These products are typically made from recycled content:


For foods like cereal, crackers, and cake mix. Bottles containing liquid laundry detergents, dishwashing fluids, shampoos, or household cleaners.

Paper Products

Toilet paper, tissue, napkins, paper towels, and greeting cards can all be found in this category. Also, you will find corrugated cardboard shipping containers, writing paper, and toilet paper.

Plastic Products

Coat hangers and desk accessories, storage organizers.


Re-refined motor oil, re-tread tires, rebuilt/re-manufactured parts, and used cars.

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Jane S. King

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