100 Things you CANNOT recycle (in curbside pick-up)

As always when it comes to recycling, check your city, your state, your region, whatever. Each facility takes different things. Make sure you are properly recycling so that your recycling has the best chance of being recycled and not thrown away.

I wanted to make this video because most people things that everything that is made of plastic, metal, glass, and paper can be recycled. But, unfortunately, that is not the case. Most of these items are just too hard or too dangerous to recycle. I want to make this video to educate you all on how to best dispose of your waste and make sure your recycling doesn’t end up in landfill, because that is where it goes if you don’t recycle properly and probably why our recycling rate is so low.

Why is recycling important? Keeping things out of landfill is a clear bonus, PLUS it is SO important to reuse product we already have and materials we already have before extracting new resources. This planet only has so many resources to go around, so the more we recycled, the less resources we run out of. Unfortunately, these items CANNOT be recycled easily. Some companies will recycle these items, but that might require you to ship them to companies like terracycle, which is totally fine. But, basically, these are the items you should really avoid. While it is great to ditch all single-use, if you have to use something single-use, try to find something that can at least be recycled instead of thrown away.

And one last thing. I was doing some research for this video and was super surprised at what some articles had to say. Most made sense and you will see below, but I saw things like diapers and dead animals? If you thought those things were recyclable, well you’re wrong. And there’s two bonus one’s for you. Now, let’s just jump right into the list. I will just briefly highlight each item and a bit about why they are not recyclable, but I will not in depth for the sake of time. I will leave some sources linked below if you want to learn more about these materials.


1. Straws

2. Zipper bags

3. Plastic wrap/cling wrap

4. Bubble wrap

5. Zip ties

6. Bread/tortilla bags

7. Bottle caps

8. Can rings

9. Plastic cutlery

10. Contaminated plastic

11. Candy wrappers

12. Grocery store bags

13. Styrofoam

14. Most places don’t take plastics numbered 3-7

15. Take out containers

16. Plastic envelopes

17. Bioplastics. Yup, they can’t be recycled. I’d like to make a more in-depth video about bioplastics in the future, but really, they are only beneficial if composted correctly

18. Labels on plastic bottles have to be removed, they cannot be recycled

19.Hand soap pumps

20. Plastic gift wrap/bows

21. Food pouches like that for babies

22. Misc food bags like chips, chocolate chips, nuts, seeds, and more

23. Bread bag little clip things

24. Animal food bags

25. Plastic shower curtains

26. Some cleaning product bottles, check your products before tossing them in the bin

27. Juice pouches

28. Beauty products like tubes of foundation and mascara

29. Brita filters

30. Lip balm tubes

31. Glitter and other small plastics

32. Solo cups

33. Tape

34. Glue sticks and glue bottles

35. Plastic cards like gift cards


36. Receipts

37. Magazines

38. Greasy Pizza boxes

39. Other contaminated paper

40. Napkins, tissues, and paper towels

41. Paper cups

42. Stickers

43. Brightly dyed paper which would stain recycled paper

44. Tetra paks. These are things like milk cartons, juice boxes, broth boxes, etc

45. Wet paper. It is okay if it gets wet, but it must be dry when picked up. Be sure to cover paper when it rains!

46. Photo paper

47. Post-its and other sticky paper

48. The hardcover of a book. It just has to be removed, but the paper can still be recycled

49. Wax/parchment paper

50. Shredded paper

51.Paper bowls and plates

52. Cigarette butts. Though they look like paper, they contain plastic. You can check out this video here from Gittemary who talks about things that contain plastic that you didn’t think did.

53. Paper straws

Though, the good part about most of these paper products, the ones that don’t contain plastic linings, they can be composted instead of thrown away!


54. Twist ties

55. Contaminated metal

56. E-waste though most cities do have e-waste recycling, it is just not curbside pick-up. Things like phones and batteries

57.Aerosol cans (because of the propellants and chemicals)

58. Wire hangers

59. Kitchen utensils

60. Pots and pans


61. Broken glass (as it is hazardous to the workers)

62. Contaminated glass

63. Household glass, things like windows, mirrors, light bulbs, and more

64. Nail polish bottles

65. Wine glasses which may contain lead


66. Medical supplies like syringes and things like that

67. Mixed materials like this container of oats which is part plastic part paper. Though, what you can do is separate the two to make sure the paper CAN be recycled and the plastic would just be thrown away

68. Kcups, unless they are CLEAN and even then, they are most likely a thin plastic that is hard to recycle

69. Coffee filters

70. Tea bags

71. Things with human waste on them….I’m not going to get into that