It would be lovely, of course, if we could truly live with zero waste and just recycle everything that we used. But recycling facilities and methods are still limited at this point, even with single stream recycling able to accept more materials than ever before. If you recycle the wrong thing, you might just contaminate the whole batch. Fortunately, we can help with this list of things that you can’t recycle:

Pizza Boxes

Most people assume they can drop pizza boxes in the recycling bin. After all, they’re just cardboard, right? This might be true with new pizza boxes that were never used. Unfortunately, used pizza boxes are cardboard and pizza grease. It’s the pizza grease that contaminates the recyclable material, and if it spreads through your recycling, it could contaminate the whole batch.

The good news is that pizza boxes, because they’re cardboard, can be composted. One method that people often use is to cut out the greasy, contaminated parts of the pizza box and compost those sections while letting the untainted cardboard go to recycling.


Most people know you can’t recycle styrofoam but might not know why. Styrofoam is made from polystyrene, which is non-biodegradable, but not hardy enough to hold up in the recycling process. The best plan is to avoid styrofoam and instead opt for paper or plastic disposable items that can be recycled or composted. If you order takeout from a restaurant, check with them to find out whether or not they use styrofoam containers and try to avoid them if you can. If you can’t, there may be some facilities that specifically accept styrofoam.

Electronic Cords

It’s not that these can’t be recycled but rather that power cords and other electronic cords can’t simply be thrown in with the rest of your household recycling. In fact, all of the parts of your cords are recyclable, but are difficult to take apart by mechanical recycling methods. That’s why when it comes to power cords, you should find an e-waste location or a computer store that might accept old power cords in order to usher them to their second life.

Oven Safe Glass or Ceramics

The very thing that makes your oven-safe glass so handy when you need a casserole dish makes it difficult to recycle. These items are designed to withstand high heat and have a high melting point. This can make them difficult to recycle and repurpose. If they’re not broken, consider donating them to Goodwill or other thrift stores or charities that might need ceramics or oven-safe glass. If it is broken, maybe you can make a clever art piece or find some other purpose for the pieces.

You might not be able to recycle everything, but you still have options. For all your trash and recycling needs, let Brazos Valley Trash Valet & Recycling help. Contact us today to learn more about our weekly trash pick-up and complimentary recycling.