Five Surprising Items You Cannot Recycle

Five Surprising Things You Cannot you’ve been hiding beneath a rock for the last few years, it can’t have escaped your notice that we’re fast reaching crisis point when it comes to the amount of rubbish we’re sending to landfill. Seriously, this is real. This is something that we need to start changing, otherwise there will be little left for our future generations to inherit. Regular readers will know that we’re often sharing ideas and tips on how to recycle more, how to change our habits, and how to live a cleaner, more eco friendly lifestyle in general. There is still much to be done, but if we join forces now then we can do it! This week we’re looking at recycling in particular, and highlighting five surprising items that you actually cannot recycle right now.

How much rubbish do we generate?

Each year the UK generates 290 million tonnes of waste. Let that sink in for a moment. That’s a LOT of rubbish. But its not all bad, as overall the amount that we recycle is increasing, and we look set to reach the government’s target in 2020- to recycle 50% of household waste. But that means that currently, more than half of that 290 million tonnes is not recycled and that’s what we need to work on. The following five non-recyclable items might surprise you…


But they’re plastic, right? They surely must be recyclable, right? Wrong. At least, not always. Balloons are the average party staple and if you’ve got kids you’re probably more than familiar with them by now. But did you know that latex balloons can actually take up to 4 years to biodegrade and they most certainly cannot be recycled. Your best option with balloons is to reuse them for arts and crafts projects, and please- whatever you do, don’t release them to the sky.

Take-away coffee cups

The paper cups you get in all the major coffee shops may well appear to be recyclable, but sadly they aren’t. They’re lined with plastic which means that only 1 in 400 will successfully be recycled. We currently throw away around 1.5 billion coffee cups per year in the UK! With awareness of plastic usage growing, some coffee shops are now offering incentives if you bring in your own cup to be filled, and some are adding a surcharge on top of the price of your drink if you choose to use a ‘throw away’ cup. Either make your own, or bring your own. Its simple.

Shampoo bottles and food containers that HAVE NOT been rinsed

Put simply, if you don’t rinse out your bottles and containers, you run the risk of causing high levels of contamination in a recycling load- and this means that the entire load will be rejected. And when a recycling load is rejected? Its sent to landfill instead. Don’t risk it. Rinse! Better still, reuse. We now offer refillable jerry cans so that you never need to throw away a bottle from your bathroom again!

Wrapping paper

You need to know this, especially with a certain ‘big day’ fast approaching. Many types of wrapping paper cannot be recycled, and this is mainly down to the shimmery, glittery, plastic detailing that seems to be so popular these days. And while we’re on the subject, the plastic tape that’s often left on the wrapping paper cannot be recycled either. Your best alternative here is to do your research and invest in recycled and reusable wrapping paper such as Happy Wrap, or present your gifts in recyclable boxes instead.

Plastic toys

Another one that you could do with knowing in the lead up to Christmas. Plastic toys cannot be recycled because more often than not they contain many different materials which means that they cannot be sorted efficiently. The answer? Invest in wooden toys made from more natural ingredients instead, and donate old toys to families who will get some use out of them after your own kids have finished.