Recycling: Items that you can’t recycle

This article was written by Randy Klauk, Hennepin County Master Recycler/Composter

The last of our recycling articles is about those items that are mostly garbage. A few of these can be recycled at special places. Please do so if you can.

  • Bags from chips, crackers or cereal
  • Batteries (take to the Hennepin County Drop site)
  • Black Plastic (doesn’t matter the number)
  • Bubble wrap
  • Candles
  • Ceramics
  • Cleaning materials
  • Clothes hangers (wire, wood or plastic)
  • Disposable diapers
  • Floss
  • Foam egg cartons
  • Furnace filters
  • Garden hoses and sprinklers
  • Hardback books
  • Kitchen glassware
  • Light bulbs (you can take CFL, the curly kind, to the Hennepin County Drop site)
  • Makeup (take it to either Nordstrom location, Mall of America or Ridgedale)
  • Medical waste
  • Mirrors
  • Nail clippers
  • Packing peanuts (many shipping {UPS & Fed Ex} services will accept them if they’re clean)
  • Photographs
  • Plastic grocery bags (take back to the store, there’s usually a bin inside the main door)
  • Plastic toys or sporting goods equipment
  • Plastic wrap
  • Polystyrene or Styrofoam
  • Pots and pans
  • Receipts (most are printed on thermal paper, which usually contains BPA)
  • Scissors
  • Shredded paper
  • Spray cans (make sure they’re empty)
  • Stickers
  • Straws
  • To-go coffee cups
  • Tooth brushes
  • Toothpaste tubes
  • Videotapes
  • Waxed paper
  • Window glass
  • Wood

Even if something is recyclable, the rate of recycling contamination has more than doubled in the last decade. If there is a small amount of contamination, it can quickly turn an entire batch of recyclable materials into non-recyclable trash. That’s why it’s recommended to throw things in the trash when you aren’t sure if you can recycle it.

Avoid buying single-use items that are hard to recycle and instead focus on long-lasting, plastic-free, recyclable products made sustainably. Unfortunately, what is or isn’t recyclable isn’t always clear, and depends on our local recycling services which can change over time. You should have received a small pamphlet from the City recently.