When it comes to recycling, we can try our best to do the right thing but end up getting it quite wrong. But don’t worry. Most of us are guilty of the same mistakes. After all, it’s only when you know that you know.

Pizza boxes

It’s quite easy to understand why you’d think these could be recycled. They are made of cardboard after all. However, the grease and left over bits of food inside of them can contaminate and ruin the quality of paper produced. That’s why it’s always better to compost these if you can. This saves them from landfill and the grease and food are good for the composting process.

Some plastic lids

Just because a plastic bottle like a milk or drink bottle can be recycled, that doesn’t mean that the lid on them can. In fact, the lids have their own codes too, so always make sure you check. If your lid can’t be recycled, there are organisations such as lids4kids who can. Lids4kids break down the lids and create artificial limbs for children that need them.

Plastic bags

Through increased public awareness, single-use plastic bags are gradually being phased out. However, there are still some instances when you get given them. So, when you do have a plastic bag, what can you do with it? Unfortunately, you can’t place it in the curb-side recycling bin however, you can take it to your local supermarket and put it in the soft plastic bin. These are big bins which can usually be found by the checkout and are for plastic bags and other soft plastics.

Polystyrene (foam)

This is a big no-no in your recycling bin. It’s a highly flammable material which is made from petroleum. However, you can save it from landfill if you really want to. Most councils will have polystyrene drop off points where you can take it.

Coffee cups

It’s easy to understand why people make mistakes with this one, especially the cardboard ones. However, the inside of the cups can also be lined with plastic which makes them not suitable for recycling. Again, check with your council though as some can in fact recycle them. The lids can be recycled though so try and separate when you can.

Used tissues and kitchen towel

Yes, these are paper but once they’ve been used they can’t be recycled. They can however be composted. So, if you live in an area with compost bins or have them in your garden, try to dispose of them there instead of in landfill.


Do you have some old coffee cups clogging up your cupboards? Or some broken pots? Unfortunately, these can’t be placed in your recycling bin. Ceramics, cases, mirrors, heat-proof cooking glass, and china all heat at a different rate to glass. This causes the recycled glass to weaken and therefore most recycling plants won’t do it. However, check with your local council as they may have some suggestions of how to dispose of them and keep them out of landfill.

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Article provided by WM Waste Management Services