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10 Items That Usually Recyclable

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Author: Hai Le

Updated on March 4, 2024 β€’ Estimated read time: 9 minutes

Recycling plays a vital role in supporting our environment by conserving resources, saving energy, and reducing landfills. If you're not already recycling, you're missing out on an opportunity to help our environment and potentially save our future.

Recycling is an essential practice in our efforts to protect the environment and conserve resources. However, not all items are recyclable through standard recycling programs.

So, to help you get started on your recycling journey, I decided to create a recycling resource highlighting ten commonly used items that can usually be recycled. And for those who already practice recycling, I would also encourage you to read this blog post to find what else you could be recycling instead of throwing it in your trash can.

Here Are 10 Items That Usually Recyclable:

Assorted plastic bottles ready to be recycle

1. Plastic Bottles

Fun Fact: According to the Container Recycling Institute. Americans will buy about 25 billion single-serving bottles of water this year, and more than 1 million plastic bottles are being bought every minute all around the world.

The good news is that plastic bottles are recyclable, and recycling them can have a positive impact on our environment. These bottles are made from a type of plastic called polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which can easily be recycled into a variety of new products or even new plastic bottles.

Unfortunately, only a few of these bottles actually get recycled. Scientists have estimated that 7 out of 10 water bottles around the world get dumped into the landfill or being left as litter.

Summary: Most plastic bottles are recyclable because they are made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Your curbside recycling programs will most likely accept your plastic bottles, so please do the world a favor and recycle your them.

Reusable brown paper bags on grey background

2. Brown Paper Bags

Brown paper bags have long been a reliable companion for carrying groceries, lunches, and various other items. Unlike plastic bags, which are not recyclable due to their lightweight and flexible nature that often jams the machines and disrupts the entire recycling process, brown paper bags are recyclable.

Brown paper bags are made from a type of paper called kraft paper. The material is strong, durable and is 100% recyclable. Most curbside recycling programs accept these bags, and recycling them is a straightforward and efficient process.

In addition to being recyclable, brown paper bags can also be repurposed. You can grant them a second life in various ways, such as gift wrapping or crafting projects, which extend their usefulness and reduce waste.

Summary: Brown paper bags are a sustainable and eco-friendly choice for carrying groceries and other items. They are made from a strong, durable, and 100% recyclable material called kraft paper, so most curbside recycling programs accept them for recycling.

Group of workers sorting papers at recycling plant

3. Newspaper And Junk Mail

If you're an average person living in the United States, then you would get a ton of newspapers and junk mail (especially during holidays). It annoyingly shows up year after year in your mailbox, even if you wish it could go away.

Fun Fact: According to Middle Georgia State University Study, approximately 10 million tons of newsprint are tossed into the trash every year in the United States. Around 65,000 to 75,000 trees are needed to produce the Sunday edition of the New York Times.

But just because they are annoying, doesn't mean you should throw them in your trash can. Most newspapers and junk mail are made of paper, so it's accepted in all recycling programs.

Eco-Friendly Life Hack: Not only can newspapers and junk mail be recyclable, but they can also be composted. If you are lucky enough to have a garden outside your house, you can simply dig a one-foot hole anywhere in your yard to compost them.

Summary: Things like newspapers, old documents, and junk mail are one of the easiest materials to recycle and turn into things. Almost, if not all curbside recycling programs accept them.

Hands holding a book with recyclable sign

4. Books

Why recycle books? Because each ton of paper recycled saves 3 cubic yards of landfill space, 380 gallons of oil, 17 trees, and 7,000 gallons of water.

Books are primarily made from paper, which is a recyclable material. By recycling paper, we reduce the need for virgin wood pulp, conserve natural resources, and lower the overall environmental impact of book production.

The recycling process for books is a bit different and requires a little more work, as they may have hardcovers around them. To recycle books properly, you need to separate them first before sending them for recycling.

Alternatively, I would recommend donating your books to a local Goodwill. By doing so, someone else could potentially read your book and learn all the useful knowledge inside.

Summary: Recycling book helps save trees, water, and energy while reducing many pollution associated with paper manufacturing. Most curbside recycling programs accept them, so if you have old books that you no longer need, please recycle them.

Cardboard sorted nicely in a box ready to be recycle

5. Cardboard Box

Cardboard boxes are everywhere in today's society, from products packaging to shipping, moving, and storage container. Cardboard boxes play a significant role in our daily live.

The good news is that these boxes are recyclable, but be sure to break down cardboard boxes to save space in your recycling bin, and make the collection process more manageable.

Fun Fact: According to Middle Georgia State University Study, recycling one ton of cardboard will save more than 9 cubic yards of landfill space. It can also save up to 24% of the energy required to make a new one.

Summary: Most cardboard boxes are designed to be recyclable, so we must take advantage of this opportunity and recycle them. When recycling your cardboard, remember to flatten it to save storage space and make the collector's job easier.

Recycling bin with a aluminum can ready to be recycle

6. Aluminum And Steel Can

Fun Fact: According to the American Iron and Steel Institute, almost 69% of all steel is recycled in North America each year. (Which is more than paper, aluminum, plastic, and glass combined)

All metal cans used for beverages like soda and beer can be recycled infinitely, which means they don't lose their value after the recycling process, saving energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. However, before thrown them into your recycling bin, it's recommended to clean them first.

Another Fun Fact: Aluminum and steel can are among the easiest materials to recycle. And recycling just one aluminum can saves enough energy to power a television for three hours!

Summary: Aluminum and steel can are among the easiest materials to recycle. So whether it's an aluminum drink can or a steel food can, don't hesitate to toss them into your recycling bin. Just remember to clean them first!

Glass containers ready for recycling

7. Glass Containers And Jars

Unlike plastic or paper, which may degrade with each recycling cycle, glass is a unique material that maintains its quality throughout the recycling process.

This means that recycled glass is just as safe and reliable as newly produced glass, making them a sustainable and eco-friendly choice for packaging and storage.

Fun Fact: Recycling glass containers and jars creates jobs. A study in 2016 found that recycling and reuse activities in the United States accounted for 757,000 jobs.

Summary: Glass containers and jars are 100% recyclable and you can recycle them endlessly because they don't lose their quality after the recycling process. Again, recycling them can save up to 95% of the energy to make a new one. So please don't throw it in your trash can.

Electronic Wastes Collected In The Green Colored garbage bin with E-waste symbol

8. Electronic Devices

Electronic devices are made from a variety of materials, including metals, plastics, and glass. These materials can be recycled and reused to create new products.

However, electronic waste, or e-waste, is not easily recycled due to its complexity and hazards, but it should never be thrown in the regular trash.

Look for local e-waste recycling centers or community events that collect old electronic devices. Proper e-waste recycling ensures that these materials are safely recovered, reducing the environmental impact and conserving valuable resources.

Summary: Electronic devices have revolutionized our lives, but their growing presence also means an increase in e-waste. Luckily, electronic devices are recyclable, and recycling them not only conserves valuable resources but also protects the environment from hazardous substances.

Recycle concept in a box full of clothes

9. Clothing

Clothing is an essential part of our daily lives, reflecting our style and personality. However, some cloths are just no longer fit or suit our taste. Luckily, most clothing is made from a variety of materials, including cotton, wool, polyester, and nylon. These materials can be recycled and reused to create new products.

Clothing can also be reused and repurposed. Donating clothing to thrift stores to helps extend the lifespan and reduces the environmental impact of the fashion industry.

Many local nonprofits clothing stores even go beyond and sort your old clothing for you, dividing it into what's reusable, and what needs to go to a recycling plant. But yes, clothing is recyclable and can be converted into fiber and used to manufacture all sorts of products.

Summary: Clothing is recyclable, but I think it better to just donate your no longer needed it to your local Goodwill or anyone who needs it. Another good idea is to resale your old clothes to make some extra money.

Two pile of vehicle tires

10. Tire

As you can tell, I kinda ran out of ideas to put on this list, but car tires are made from a variety of materials, including rubber, steel, and fabric. These materials can be recycled and turned into many different things.

A tire can also end up burned off as fuel or turned into playground equipment.

Summary: Used tires can be taken to a local recycling facility or tire retailer to recycle, but in most cases, when you buy a new set of tires, the dealer will usually recycle your old tires for you. If not, then at least you can use it to make a swing out of it.

Quick Takeaway

As always, check with your local recycling program to make sure all of these items can be placed in your curbside recycling bin. Curbside recycling programs are vary from city to city. This blog is intended to be a general guide only.

Here Are 10 Items That Are Usually Recyclable:

  1. Plastic Bottles
  2. Brown Paper Bags
  3. Newspaper And Old Document
  4. Books
  5. Cardboard Box
  6. Aluminum And Steel Can
  7. Glass Container And Jars
  8. Electronic Device
  9. Clothing
  10. Tire

Again, for the most accurate information, please check with your local recycling program, and if you have any questionable items that need to be recycled, use this search to find a local recycler.

Frequently Asked Questions Relate To This Blog:

Question #1: What are the benefits of recycling?

Answer: Recycling has many benefits but the most important benefits is to help reduces the amount of waste that goes to landfills, which can also helps to protect the environment.

Question #2: How do I know if an item is recyclable?

Answer: You can simply tell if an item is recyclable by checking the recycling symbol on the item. The recycling symbol is a triangle made up of three arrows pointing in a clockwise direction.

Question #3: How can I recycle more items?

Answer: To recycle more, you can simply check with your local recycling program to see if there are more items that you don't know they accept. Or take your un-recyclable items like plastic bag to a drop-off center if necessary.

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