10 Non-Recyclables that Drive Recyclers Crazy!

Recycling Rules

10 Things you should STOP putting in your bin!

Keep your waste hauler and your local recycler sane by keeping these common non-recyclables out:

1. Plastic Bags: Pastic bags and film are very difficult to contain if loose and get stuck in equipment. Disappearing markets along with the high cost of labor required to process them means they are no longer allowed in your recycling bin. Bring your own bags to the store instead and bring your used plastic bags to drop-off locations who can still accept them.

2. Batteries: Batteries cause fires when they get crushed in transit, when they’re dumped at the recycling facility, or when they’re mixed with recyclable material like paper and cardboard. Check with your city how to properly dispose of batteries. In Sioux Falls, the Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) facility accepts batteries of all types year round. You can also take them directly to SEAM for recycling, located right up the road from the HHW facility.

3. Hoses: Garden hoses are made out of a mixture of different types of materials, making them very difficult to recycle. Along with their complicated makeup, if “stringy” items like garden hoses make it onto the processing line, they can easily get caught in our recycling equipment and force us to shut down to physically cut them out, wasting time, possibly damaging our equipment and posing a safety hazard to our employees. If your hose can be reused, donate it to a local thrift store so someone else can use it! If it’s not able to be reused and you don’t want to just throw it away, try to make something new with it – Check out these ideas from Make-Stuff.com or these from GardeningChannel.com.

4. Fabric & Dryer Lint: Fabric like clothing, blankets, bedding, towels etc. get caught in the recycling equipment and causes major problems at recycling facilities. Usually clothes get so damaged or contaminated from the waste truck that they have to be thrown away after being pulled out. Donate to one of the many community organizations, charities or thrift stores instead: Check out this list from the local best for some ideas. Dryer lint, composed of tiny bits of fabric fibers, are also not recyclable and should be placed in the garbage.

5. Diapers & Home Health Waste: Diapers (Clean OR Dirty), syringes, needles, plastic tubing, catheters, pills, medication, crutches, wheelchairs, bandages, gauze, pretty much anything you can relate to home healthcare is not recyclable – even if unused. Not only do recycling employees have to touch it to remove it, but none of those materials are recyclable in the single stream- keep them out! (learn where to take sharps and medications in Sioux Falls instead).

6. Hangers: Hangers, regardless if metal, plastic or wood, are not recyclable in your bin. They get caught on recycling equipment cause massive damage to the system. Take wire hangers to a scrap metal business who specializes in metal, not just tin and aluminum cans like single stream. Locally, you can check with TJN or other outlets before trashing them. Many dry cleaners and thrift stores will also accept all types of hangers as donations

7. Metal Items: Scrap metal like Dumbbells, Barbells, Kettlebells, Car Parts, Pots & Pans, Silverware, etc, does not belong in your recycling bin. It can cause MAJOR damage to the recycling equipment. The only metal accepted in your recycling bin is metal cans and clean aluminium foil. That’s it.

8. Pizza Grease: Cardboard is recyclable, grease is not. If your pizza box is full of cheese and grease, it mixes with good paper products when pulped and can ruin an entire recycling batch! If minimal grease on the box, recycle it. If food is stuck to the box or it’s soaked in grease, rip off the bad part before recycling.

9. Plastic Toys: Because toys are made up of so many different materials, they are extremely difficult to recycle. If complex items like toys come in, they damage the equipment or worse, injure our employees. Consider donating toys to local organizations and give them a second life to make another child smile.

10. VHS Tapes: If even one VHS or cassette tape makes it in the recycling bin, it can cause great damage to the recycling equipment. The “stringy” makeup of VHS tapes are horrible for the process and can completely shut down the equipment if they get wrapped up. Check with local electronics recycling companies like SEAM. They usually charge a small fee. You could also potentially find some reuse options, if a thrift store or library will accept them or sell it online.