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Is this Recyclable? Extreme Edition

We get a lot of questions about is this recyclable or not. We also see a lot of things put into the residential recycling bin that might be considered outrageous.

Is This Recyclable?

  1. Is a bowling ball recyclable in my curbside bin? No. And surprisingly these end up in the recycling stream a lot. Please don’t do this.
  2. Are holiday lights recyclable in my curbside bin? Nope. Check your local recycling guidelines as they might have a special program for these.
  3. What about plastic grocery bags? Still no.
  4. How about a tire iron or car jack? Also no.
  5. Is my hammer recyclable in my curbside bin? Nope.

So What is Okay to Recycle?

  1. Is a cardboard box accepted in my curbside bin? Yes! Break it down flat first.
  2. How about the tube insert from my toilet paper? Yes.
  3. My cereal box? Yes, remove the plastic first.
  4. My medicine box? Also yes.
  5. Magazines and catalogs I don’t need? Yes.

Check out our list of common paper items in the home that are okay to recycle.

Recyclable vs Accepted for Recycling

Many times, confusion about what’s recyclable has to do with knowing the difference between recyclable and accepted for recycling.

Generally, something is considered recyclable if it can be broken down and turned into a new product. It’s able to be recycled. Accepted for recycling means something different. Accepted for recycling is when it’s okay to put it in your curbside recycling bin or a recycling can on a sidewalk.

Just because something has a recycling symbol doesn’t mean you can recycle it in your area. Always be sure to check your local recycling guidelines.

The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) serves to advance U.S. paper and wood products manufacturers through fact-based public policy and marketplace advocacy. The forest products industry is circular by nature. AF&PA member companies make essential products from renewable and recyclable resources, generate renewable bioenergy and are committed to continuous improvement through the industry’s sustainability initiative —Better Practices, Better Planet 2030: Sustainable Products for a Sustainable Future. The forest products industry accounts for approximately 5% of the total U.S. manufacturing GDP, manufactures about $350 billion in products annually and employs about 925,000 people. The industry meets a payroll of about $65 billion annually and is among the top 10 manufacturing sector employers in 43 states. Visit AF&PA online at or follow us on Twitter @ForestandPaper