Surprising Items You Cannot Recycle

Is the item you’re putting into the recycling, recyclable? According to the BBC, councils failed to recycle 338,000t waste in 2014-15. In the UK, recycling plants send most of the rejected recycling for incineration.

Pringles cans

A Pringles can on the ground with a coffee cup lid next to it

Although made of recyclable materials, recycling plants don’t accept Pringles cans. The reason for this is that the plants cannot separate the materials that make the can. Pringles and Terracycle joined together in 2019 to collect and recycle the cans.

Crisp packets

A packet of crisps
Image by Prawny from Pixabay

Crisp packets use metallised plastic film for their packaging. So like most plastic films, kerbside recycling doesn’t accept them. You can either drop them off at a Terracycle drop-off point or at a supermarket carrier bag collection point. Unfortunately, neither of those options are as convenient as kerbside collection.


A child playing with toy blocks
Image by Esi Grünhagen from Pixabay

Contrary to popular belief, toys are not generally recycled. This is due to the mixture of materials that make every toy. The alternative is to recycle by separating the materials (e.g. batteries, metal springs). Of course, if they work, it’s better to donate them.

Toothpaste tubes

Colgate Max Fresh toothpaste tube 100ml

Toothpaste tubes contain several types of plastic and an aluminium layer. Therefore, you cannot put them in recycling bins. Colgate and Terracycle, however, have teamed up to offer drop-off points for Colgate toothpaste tubes.

Glass items

wine glass on a blue background
Image by JINHONG KIM from Pixabay

Councils accept jars and bottles for recycling, and plants can recycle them endlessly. However, glass cookware, drinking glasses, mirrors, and light bulbs are not recyclable at home. The reason is that they go through different manufacturing processes, which make them difficult to recycle.


stack of receipts that recycling plants cannot recycle
Image by Sabine van Erp from Pixabay

It’s easy to think receipts are recyclable, as they are made from paper. This is wrong, however, because thermal receipts contain Bisphenol A (BPA). BPA in these receipts can contaminate the paper products that the recycling plant produces. Thermal paper is shiny and shows black marks when scratched.


You cannot recycle pringles cans, crips packets, toys, toothpaste tube, some glass items and thermal receipts. Some of these items are accepted by Terracycle. You should also try donating items that are in working condition.

Did you know the recyclability of these items? Hopefully, this article has made you aware of what you can put in the recycling bin. Together, we can reduce the time recycling plants spend on items that they cannot recycle. Think before placing each item in the recycling.


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