Things That Can't Be Recycled


Most people don't mind recycling their unwanted or discarded water bottles, home electronics, clothing and packaging as long as the process is simple, convenient and fast. Fortunately, the United States has taken great strides to ensure that this is exactly how public recycling programs are described. Unfortunately, despite its best efforts, there are still numerous products the public falsely thinks are recyclable but aren't. These fallacies usually occur because people have come to believe that all plastics are recyclable, which is not true. There are numerous products in today's market that are neither biodegradable nor easily reusable.

Certain Plastic Water Bottles

  • Many people make a point to recycle their plastic water bottles. However, just because all types of water bottles are dropped into recycling bins doesn't necessarily mean they can be recycled. An easy way to tell whether a water bottle can be recycled or not is to look at the bottom of the bottle. There is a number present that ranges from one to seven. Water bottles that display a three or a five cannot be recycled in most jurisdictions throughout America. A three indicates that the water bottle has been made from polyvinyl chloride, a five means that it's been made of polypropylene, two materials that are not accepted by most public recycling centers.

Polyvinyl Chloride

  • There are numerous plastic-based products that cannot break down and cannot be recycled. Like the plastic water bottles, many are made out of polyvinyl chloride, or PVC. PVC is a polymer that can be found in window frames, pillows, carpet backing, mattresses, children's toys, medical tubing and water pipes--all of which cannot be recycled if PVC is present. There are some districts throughout Europe that currently recycle PVC-based products, however, the United States has yet to implement such a program. Consumers can recycle these products at vinyl recycling plants

Plastics and Other Items

  • There are a number of other items that are made from plastics and polymers that simply cannot be recycled. These include common packaging items such as tissue paper and styrofoam peanuts. The plastic packaging commonly used in super market items such as sour cream, cottage cheese, butter, frozen meals and large pet food bags, also are not recyclable. Most plastic picnic accessories, including plastic plates, utensils and cups, will never break down, nor will most planting pots, batteries and motor oil containers. Even containers made from more durable and long-lasting plastics, such as cups, lids, tops and reusable containers, cannot be recycled.


  • Photo Credit; Acdx
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