Ten Things that are NOT Typically Recyclable
There are a lot of things out there that you might think of as being something that you can recycle at home, but they actually are not. By putting things in the recycle bin that are generally not recyclable, you are doing more harm than good.
One thing to keep in mind is that this can vary from city to city. Some cities might take some of these things, but many may not, so check with your local municipality's DPW. Earth911 has a search feature so you can find out where you can recycle some of these items if your city doesn't take them.
1) Milk and juice cartons. Cartons can be tricky to recycle because of wax linings or plastic coatings, and some recycling centers are simply not equipped to recycle them.
2) Pizza boxes. Lots of people will sneak them into their recycle bin, but because of the grease on it, it's not recyclable. What you CAN do, however, is rip the soiled portion off and recycle the rest. Don't compost the soiled portion, though. The grease is bad for plants.
3) Plastic #5, (ie., yogurt containers, hummus containers, etc) You can either try to reuse the yogurt containers or recycle them via Gimme5.
4) Wet paper. When paper gets wet, it degrades the quality. On a rainy day, make sure your recyclables are covered! You can compost wet paper, though, so it doesn't completely have to go to waste.
5) Used napkins or paper towels. It's the grease and food residue thing again. You can compost these as well, as long as you haven't used anything toxic on it. (like traditional household cleaning solutions)
6) Paper cups. They have a lining, usually wax or plastic, so it falls under the same category as milk cartons. They need to go in the trash, not the recycling bin.
7) Batteries. They can't be recycled along with your soda cans and newspaper. Read more about how to dispose of batteries here.
8) Aerosol cans. They contain chemicals, and most cities will consider them to be hazardous material.
9) Certain types of glass. For instance, you can't recycle windows, mirrors, and traditional light bulbs. (Jars and bottles are definitely recyclable, though!) There are different rules for recycling CFL blubs because they contain a little bit of mercury.
10) Plastic bottle caps. There was a whole story on it on NPR in 2008.