Can you recycle it?

Can you recycle it?

Click to download & print our reycling guide!

Today’s kids have been brought up learning it’s a good idea to “reduce, reuse, and recycle.” But rules and regulations can vary by state, county or city, creating plenty of confusion about what can and can't be recycled.

So how do you really know if you should recycle or reuse an item, or if it is simply just refuse?

Here are 11 things that definitely can NOT be recycled. Some may surprise you.

Windows, Mirrors, or Broken Glass

While almost all glass jars and containers are recyclable, think twice before trying to recycle window glass, light bulbs, mirrors, plate glass, or glass art pieces. (And be sure to keep magic mirrors away from the evil queen. ;-) )

Kitchen Glassware and Ceramics

Glass that is meant to be heated or frozen, cannot be recycled either. Ceramic and oven-safe dishes, bakeware, cookware, and serving pieces are designed to withstand high heat, so they have a higher melting point than conventional glass. As such, most recycling centers won’t accept these handy kitchen necessities.

Most Lids

The baseball cap variety can be reused, but we’re talking about bottle lids. “But they’re plastic, why can’t they be recycled?” you ask? Unfortunately, most lids and caps on water bottles, soda bottles, detergent bottles, and similar containers are made from polypropylene, also known as plastic #5, and typically can't be recycled. However, we know lots of teachers (and parents-turned-teachers) who reuse them for art projects. So we encourage you to bag them up and pass them on to a teacher or your local elementary or pre-school.


Dumbo’s favorite snack is a biodegradable food, but packing peanuts are made of expanded polystyrene and cannot be recycled. Rather than sending those squeaky plastic puffs to a landfill, many commercial shipping services accept clean packing peanuts from consumers, and so does The Junkluggers.

Hardcover Books

While paperback books are fully recyclable, you cannot throw your hardcover books in the blue bin, intact. You must remove the cover, because it contains non-paper components that cannot be recycled. Paper recycling fun facts: each ton of paper recycled saves 3 cubic yards of landfill space, 380 gallons of oil and 17 trees! Paper accounts for half the weight of all recyclables collected in curbside programs (and we know how heavy a small pile of books can be; we pick them up all the time!).


While we are talking paper, did you know receipts cannot be recycled? Not only can small pieces of paper get tangled and caught up in the machinery, but many receipts are also coated with BPA and are not recyclable or compostable. Fortunately, many retailers are now asking if you even want one at check out, or giving you the option of receiving it via email.

Waxed Paper and Cartons

Rounding out the trifecta of paper that won’t recycle are cartons. Broth, stock, and orange juice are among the groceries often sold in cartons. This convenient packaging should not be recycled, because the wax fibers on the coating won’t break down properly. Other products with wax coatings include waxed paper, silicone baking paper, waxed baking cups, and most frozen food boxes.


Mattresses cannot be recycled, but they can be reused. And throwing them away clogs up landfills and contributes to greenhouse gas emissions as they decompose. Most waste haulers won’t take them for that reason. However, some cities, nonprofits and homeless shelters offer special mattress donation services. Or call us to put your old mattress to rest.

Old TVs and Electronics

Donation centers won’t accept electronics that aren’t in working order, and curbside collection generally won’t pick those items up either. Some communities host special recycling days specifically for electronics. Or, simply add your untimely expired tech to the pile for The Junkluggers to take away. Many of our locations participate in free electronic waste recycling events to help alleviate the growing problem of e-waste. Reach out to The Junkluggers in your local area to see if they are participating in any upcoming e-waste events near you.

Treated Wood

You can’t recycle wood treated with any kind of finish. The chemicals used in wood finishes can contaminate water supplies if not properly disposed of, and burning treated wood is typically prohibited without a permit.

Clothes Hangers

Plastic hangers are often made of mixed materials, so they can’t be placed in single stream recycling bins. Metal hangers have an odd shape, which can get caught on recycling equipment. And wood hangers are treated, so they can’t be recycled, either. Some dry cleaners and thrift stores will accept donated hangers. But hangers that are broken or beyond use should be thrown away.

Try to pay attention the next time the educational materials distributed by your waste hauler, recycling center, or material recovery facility (MRF) land in your mailbox, to find out what exactly you can and can't recycle in your area. For items that cannot be recycled, it is important to cut down on consumption or come up with ways to reuse these items, so they don’t end up in a landfill. For anything that you can’t recycle or reuse on your own, call us to help you dispose of your unwanted items properly. While one person’s junk can possibly be someone else’s treasure, your friends at The Junkluggers can save the day, and haul it away. Schedule a free estimate today!