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Which common items do people wrongly think they can recycle?

15 May 2018

Recent research and polls have shown that as a nation we are becoming more interested in recycling and preserving the environment. However, it also revealed that we are largely in the habit of recycling the wrong things. Whilst you may have good intentions, recycling the wrong things can cause more harm than good. 

Research by the British Science Association (BSA) revealed that out of 2,000 people surveyed, 8/10 were aware of how recycling benefited the environment. However, out of this number, none achieved full marks when it came to choosing which items they were allowed to recycle. Here are some of the most common items wrongfully recycled so that you don’t make the same mistake.

Wrapping paper

Come post-Christmas, everyone has opened their presents and has a surplus of ripped and unusable wrapping paper to spare. Many think that they are doing the right thing by throwing all of this in the recycling bin but this could be a mistake. 

If it is simple paper wrapping paper, then chances are that it is fine to recycle, however, a lot of wrapping papers still either have sticky tape attached or are coated in non-paper additives which means that they cannot be recycled. A good test for this is called the ‘scrunch’ test; if you scrunch the wrapping paper in your fist and it stays scrunched up one you open your hand, it’s recyclable, but if it springs back into shape then it isn’t and should go in with general waste.

Crisp & Pet Food Packets

Whilst the interior of your crisp or pet food packet may look like tin foil, it is actually metallised plastic film that cannot be recycled. Actual kitchen foil and aluminium foil trays, however, are recyclable once they are cleaned of food particles.


Most people assume that they can recycle books without any issues, after all, they are mostly made of paper! However, the vast majority of books are actually non-recyclable because of the glue that is used to bind them, which can cause issues during the pulping process at a recycling plant. It’s therefore best to give your books to a charity or swap them instead.

What else can’t you recycle?

•    Anything with sticky tape on it
•    Kitchen roll & tissue paper
•    Many plastic film wraps
•    Unrinsed shampoo and conditioner bottles
•    Greasy pizza boxes
•    Cutlery
•    Plastic straws
•    Photo paper
•    Plastic bags
•    Post-it notes
•    Plastic toys

We are an experienced team of recycling specialists based in Dorset and Oxfordshire, with expertise in all areas of recycling and waste disposal ranging from cardboard recycling and End of Life Vehicle Collection, to trade waste disposal and metal recycling. For more information about our recycling services, or for further advice on how you can make a difference at home, contact our team on 01202 675564 today.

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Locate your nearest household waste centre and scrap yard using the list below. Unsure of where your waste needs to go? Contact our team and we'll be more than happy to help. For your local council charges visit the Oxford Council and Dorset For You websites.

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