Recycling is an excellent way to make your world and your environment a better place simply by taking out the trash. It’s both environmentally and economically conscious, reducing the need for landfills, the need to use new, natural resources, and the cost of production. However, just because recycling is a great way to help doesn’t mean you can recycle anything. There are some things that just can’t, and shouldn’t, be reused. Some of them might be obvious, but garbage is mistakenly recycled all the time. Here are some of the most common things people mistakenly recycle and how you can avoid them.

Pizza Boxes/Food Containers

This one is tricky because we already know that cardboard is recyclable. Some pizza boxes even have the tell-tale recycle sign on the box. However, the instant the pizza box comes in contact with that tasty, greasy pizza, its hope of one day going into the recycle bin ends. When paper products are recycled, they’re turned into a slurry by being soaked in water with other paper materials. Grease from pizza or any other food creates oils in the slurry and those oils can’t be removed, which makes the entire slurry unusable. In fact, it’s a good bet that anything food related is not recyclable.

Shredded Paper

Businesses often need to shred paper to protect their confidentiality. That’s necessary for their business, but many paper mills won’t accept shredded paper because of the mess it creates when it gets mixed up in all the other paper. Shredding paper shortens the paper fiber, which in turn shortens the chances that paper mills or recycling companies will be able to re-use the paper. If you need to shred paper for your business or for personal reasons, it’s better to contact a local shredding company to collect it than simply to toss it in your recycling bin.

Plastic Bags

Plastic bags are not only one of the biggest issues when it comes to litter and landfills, they can be a pain when it comes to recycling as well. Recycling is often done by machine, and plastic bags have a habit of getting stuck in the equipment. Sometimes instances with plastic bags cause the whole plant to shut down, which slows down the process of recycling and costs the plant and the employees time and money to get things running again. Instead of throwing plastic bags in the recycling bin, ask your local grocery store if they offer plastic bag recycling, or collect plastic bags in your own home for personal re-use.

Bottle Caps

You should recycle your water bottle, of course, but that doesn’t mean you should recycle your lid. Sounds confusing, right? Well, it turns out your water bottle’s lid is made of a different plastic called polypropylene and it sometimes needs to be recycled separately. Check the numbers on your recycled items, both the bottle and the lid. Plastics are sorted into different numbers based on their content. Most recycling companies will only accept plastics 1 and 2 and anything else, like polypropylene, needs to be recycled separately. However, Brazos Valley Trash Valet & Recycling accepts plastics 1-7, including polypropylene.


If you live outside of Bryan-College Station city limits, check with your local recycling provider to learn what materials can and can’t be recycled. Brazos Valley Trash Valet & Recycling accepts more plastics and materials than their competition, and they accept everything co-mingled. They’ll sort your recycling so you can continue to improve your world, one piece of trash at a time.