What Exactly Can We Recycle Nowadays?

Remember when recycling first became a thing? Everyone was washing and sorting their plastic, paper, aluminium, and glass waste like there was no tomorrow and putting them in the correct bin or recycling facility. Then the fad kind of wore off and sure, we still recycled, but the effort of cleaning and sorting got a bit much and we all got a bit lackadaisical when it came to recycling.


Recycling is one of those things where it’s hard to keep up with what can and can’t be recycled and often different companies have different rules so it’s easy to understand where the confusion has come from. However, we’re now facing major repercussions for our waste, and while it’s not something we want to scare you about, it’s a very important issue that needs immediate attention. We’ve decided to put together a guide on what can and can’t be recycled and why.


Not all plastic is created equal… it’s only ‘rigid plastics’ that are recyclable unfortunately.

Rigid plastics are made of items in the home like plastic bottles (soft drinks, milk etc), cartons (yogurt, butter, etc), hygiene packaging (shampoo, conditioner, body wash etc), food trays (fruit and veg etc). Ensure all of these items are well washed and dried before placing in your recycling bin. Yes, it’s time consuming but our planet will thank you for it.

Photo by  mali maeder  from  Pexels .

Photo by mali maeder from Pexels.

The sad part? Plastic found in carrier bags and food wrappers (soft plastics) aren’t yet recyclable as we don’t have the technology to do so. In January 2018 it was announced that 80% of this plastic was sent to China to be recycled. China have since said they will no longer be accepting this plastic as it often caused contamination. All soft plastic must now be placed in with general waste.


Like plastic, not all paper or cardboard products are recyclable. You can recycle items like:

  • Letters and brochures (leaflets, junk mail etc).

  • Toilet and kitchen roll holders.

  • Cardboard boxes (cereal boxes etc). Must be flattened out.

  • Egg boxes.

  • Cartons (orange juice, milk etc).

Also like plastic, not all paper and cardboard can be recycled. Cardboard food containers like pizza boxes contaminate recycling bins. Good news though as they can be popped in your compost bin! Paper towels and napkins also can’t be recycled but like those pizza boxes, they can be composted. Coffee cups, although made from paper, aren’t recyclable as they contain a membrane of polyethylene (plastic). Your use of coffee cups like this can be reduced with a KeepCup, a reusable coffee cup. A bonus of using a reusable coffee cup? Most coffee shops will give you a discount on your coffee! What’s not to love?! It’s also worth suggesting Vegware to your local cafe. Vegware produce compostable food and drink containers for businesses so even if you forget your reusable cup your coffee cup is doing some good!

Tins & Cans

Items like cans (soup, soft drinks etc) can be placed in recycling. Food and pet food cans can also be recycled. As always ensure that they are well rinsed and dry beforehand. Whilst tin and cans can be recycled foil and aluminum cannot be recycled. This is due to the fact that food residue can be hard to remove from these materials. They must go in your waste bin. Reduce your use of tinfoil (and cling film) by using a reusable alternative like these beeswax food covers.


Clean glass is recyclable, but it can’t be put in your usual recycling bin. It has to be taken to a glass/bottle bank. You can find your local facility here!