What Is Recyclable?

Light bulb recycling concept

When you were decluttering your home did you ever look at something and wonder what is recyclable and what isn't? You might be surprised at the variety of things that can easily be recycled.

List of Recyclable Materials

Different areas of the country have different types of recycling systems available. Sometimes it can be difficult to find the proper recycling company for one of your items. Be sure to ask your city offices if they have any recycling programs that you might not know about.

Items that have held food usually do not need to be washed but it is good to rinse them out before recycling.

Aluminum and Metal

Aluminum is recyclable. This includes:

  • Soda cans
  • Food cans
  • Empty aerosol cans


Clear and colored glass bottles and jars are recyclable. Glass items that cannot be recycled are:

  • Broken glass
  • Light bulbs
  • Mixed color glass
  • Mirrors
  • Windows
  • Pyrex


Many types of plastics can now be recycled successfully.

  • Plastic containers
  • Milk cartons
  • Plastic wrap
  • Plastic bags
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Cardboard and Paper

Most types of cardboard and paper can be recycled.

  • Newspaper
  • Cereal boxes
  • Gift wrap
  • Shredded documents
  • Cardboard egg cartons
  • Junk mail
  • Juice cartons
  • Corrugated cardboard
  • Magazines and phone books

Paper products that usually can't be recycled are:

  • Anything that has been contaminated with food
  • Laminated paper
  • Sanitary products
  • Thermal fax paper

Food Products

Some cities offer curbside recycling for food scraps. Be sure and call your city to find out if this is available to you. You can also recycle food scraps by creating a compost pile. This also helps you to have a healthy, organic garden. Don't ever add meat, fats, or dairy products to your compost pile, since it can draw mice, rats, and flies.

  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Grain products
  • Coffee grounds
  • Tea leaves

Green Recycling

Green recycling is considered to be lawn clippings and other compostable items. Again, most of these things can easily be added to your own compost pile.

  • Grass clippings
  • Leaves
  • Weeds
  • Wood chips
  • Sawdust


Many gas stations and various designated places collect used motor oil and oil filters, as well as other automotive items. If you change your own oil you will need to put it in a special container and take it to one of the designated collection locations.

  • Antifreeze
  • Car Batteries
  • Motor Oil
  • Tires
  • Transmission Fluid


If you have an electronic item that is still usable then one of the best ways to recycle it is to donate it to a local school or charity. If the item is broken and not able to be fixed you can often recycle it. Recyclable electronics include:

  • Answering Machines
  • Cables
  • Camcorders
  • CD Players
    computer equipment
  • Cell phones
  • Cell phone batteries
  • Computers
  • Computer batteries
  • Fax machines
  • Keyboards
  • Laptops
  • Monitors
  • Mouse
  • Printers
  • PDAs
  • Remote Controls
  • Televisions

If you can't find a computer recycling site locally, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has information on where you can recycle these items.

Chlorinated Fluorocarbon

If you are throwing out an old refrigerator or air conditioner, it is important to have the Chlorinated Fluorocarbon (CFCs) drained and recycled first. There are also many components of a refrigerator that may be able to be recycled. Check with the EPA.

Household Items

Like electronics, the best way to recycle household items is to donate them to a local charity so that they can be reused by someone who needs them. This includes:

  • Clothing
  • Dishes
  • Furniture
  • Pots and pans

Construction Materials

If you are remodeling your home and you have leftover construction materials or items like cabinets that you have removed, you can often donate these items to Habitat for Humanity. The organization may use items received in the construction of new homes for people who would otherwise not be able to afford them. Alternately, items may be sold in Habitat's "ReStore" thrift stores to raise money for the organization.

Keep Up to Date on What Is Recyclable

The list of what is recyclable changes from time to time as new technology is developed. If you have any questions on what can be recycled in your state you can call 1-800-CLEANUP or see Earth911.com for information. Recycling is an important way of keeping the environment healthy.

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