5 Things You’ll Find in a Recycling Bin That Aren’t Recyclable

5 Things You’ll Find in a Recycling Bin That Aren’t Recyclable

Recycling can be complicated. But choosing to recycle means we’re all trying our best to keep waste out of landfills and reduce what we throw away. And since you’ve probably got the basics of recycling down (plastic with plastic, etc), we want to help you take things to the next level by helping you find the items in your bin that risk contaminating the batch at recycling centers. Fortunately, we've also partnered with TerraCycle so that you can divert this packaging from the landfill.

3 inch by 3 inch (or smaller) plastics

We’ve been there. Grabbing up every little piece of plastic to place in our recycling bin to make sure it doesn’t end up in the trash. But sadly, not all plastic is created equal. So when it comes to small, hard plastic pieces, adding them to your recycling bin can cause more trouble than you’d expect. Since these pieces are so small, they often slip through literal cracks in the system and risk contaminating batches of other recyclables.

White or dark colored #1 type plastic

“Number 1 type plastic is the most broadly recyclable plastic.” Sound familiar? Of course this statement is true, but not as universally true as you might think. Because this type of plastic is meant to be reused, it’s really only clear or transparent blue and green plastics that work in the process. Otherwise, solid white or dark colored plastics are not as universally reusable and therefore not as universally accepted.

Refrigerator or freezer cardboard boxes

We’re going to go ahead and guess that there’s a refrigeration-friendly cardboard box in your recycling bin right now, isn’t there? Don’t worry, this one was big news for a lot of us at Hive, too. But unfortunately, since many manufacturers use glue and other substances in the cardboard packaging that’s intended to go in a refrigerator (think shiny surface freezer food, soda, beer, seltzer), it’s no longer recyclable with other cardboard boxes. And placing it with them risks the dreaded contamination we mentioned before.

Mixed plastic containers

Before you toss that bottle or jar into your recycling bin, take a look at the label. If it’s a shrink wrap plastic label, you should separate the label from the bottle and dispose of it according to the recommended guidelines for its plastic type. Another common culprit? Deodorant canisters. These are almost always made of mixed plastic and shouldn’t be lumped in with your recycling. And if you happen to have a can with a plastic shrink wrap, those two can never go together. Because mixing plastic and metal at a recycling center just doesn’t work. So be sure to take the labels off cans.

Flexible films and pouches

How many times have you dropped the film peeled off a seal or a plastic pouch from inside a box in with your other plastics? A lot of us at Hive did this more times than we could count before we learned the truth about these plastics; They aren’t broadly recyclable. That means adding them to the bin doesn’t help the plastic in the bin or the packaging you just tore off avoid becoming waste. Occasionally, some places do take these items, so check with your local recycler.

So what can you do?

In the case of all the plastics we mentioned, you can send them to TerraCycle, the social enterprise dedicated to eliminating waste. TerraCycle offers recycling programs funded by brands, manufacturers, and retailers around the world to help you collect and recycle your hard-to-recycle waste. To date, over 202 million people in 21 countries have participated in TerraCycle take-back programs. By volume, TerraCycle recycles 97% of the waste they collect so that it can be made into something new, and they reuse or upcycle the rest.

If you shop with us, you can buy an envelope with your order to ship your hard-to-recycle plastics and other packaging materials straight back to us to be picked up by TerraCycle. Keep your eyes peeled for the TerraCycle logo as you peruse products and refer to the “How to Dispose” section on product pages for specific instructions on which packaging components are eligible. At check-out, be sure to choose the “opt-in” button in your cart if there is a product in it that can be TerraCycled, and we will include a postage prepaid envelope in your shipment. Then, simply hang on to your mailer until it’s full, seal it shut, and drop in any USPS mailbox! This gives your packaging a chance at a better life (like as a park bench). And don’t worry, the envelope itself is TerraCycle-able, too.

Lastly, if you’re looking to shop products with limited plastic (or no plastic at all), you’re in the right place. Our Cut Down on Plastic collection is the perfect starting point.

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