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Recyclebank's Top 10

Recyclebank’s Top 10 Most Popular Recycling Questions, Answered

By Recyclebank |

Make April a great Earth Month. Find out how to properly dispose of the most commonly asked about items, from sticky notes to dryer sheets.


We’re dreaming of a green Earth Month, where recycling bins overflow and contamination is low — an April where trash bags are light, because it’s easier to recycle right.

Recycling makes the biggest impact when the only things in our recycling carts are items that can be processed by the local MRF and efficiently recycled into new products. Of course, it’s not always clear just what those things are, and it seems like every day brings a new reason to ask: Is this recyclable?

This year, we’re celebrating Earth Month with a greatest hits collection of recycling questions asked by YOU, our readers. Here are our top 10!

1. Can I Recycle Receipts Made of Thermal Paper?
No. The thermal paper used for most receipts can contain chemicals, like BPA, that are not easily removed in the recycling process. One indicator that your receipt is printed on thermal paper is a slight shine on the surface of the paper; another is that the paper turns a purplish-black color when you rub your nail along it. If this sounds like your receipt, trash it (or try to avoid it altogether).
Read More: Because You Asked: Can I Recycle Receipts Made of Thermal Paper?

2. Can I Recycle Sticky Notes?
Usually, yes. Though we can’t say for certain if your hauler will accept them (so be sure to double-check), most paper recycling equipment is capable of removing the adhesive used on sticky notes, making it perfectly fine to recycle them right along with all of your other paper.
Read More: Because You Asked: Can I Recycle Sticky Notes?

3. Do I Need to Remove the Address Window from Envelopes?
Nope! Go ahead and recycle your junk mail without removing the address windows. Just as paper recycling equipment can handle some sticky note adhesive, it can also handle those address windows, and staples, and paper clips, and all sorts of other bits that come in the mail, too.
Read More: Because You Asked: Do I Need to Remove the Address Window from Envelopes?

4. Can I Recycle Plastic Grocery Bags in the Recycling Bin?
No, and including them in your bin can actually jam up recycling machines and hurt the whole process. But don’t fret! You CAN recycle them elsewhere. The easiest option is to drop them in a designated bin, at the entrance of most grocery stores, home improvement stores, pharmacies, and other retailers. You can double-check where the nearest drop-off center is before heading out with a bundle of bags.
Read More: Because You Asked: Can I Recycle Plastic Grocery Bags in the Recycling Bin?

5. Because You Asked: Is Bubble Wrap Recyclable?
Not in your bin, but it can be recycled along with those plastic grocery bags at participating drop-off centers. If there are no drop-off centers by you, you still don’t have to trash it. Try reusing it, or get crafty and upcycle it.
Read More: Because You Asked: Is Bubble Wrap Recyclable?

6. Is Cling Wrap Recyclable?
Unfortunately, not at all. Unlike other thin plastic items like grocery bags and bubble wrap, cling wrap is not recyclable in any way. In order to keep it out of the landfills, you should just try to avoid it all together.
Read More: Because You Asked: Is Cling Wrap Recyclable?

7. How Can I Clean Recyclables Without Wasting Water?
You want to recycle right, but you ALSO want to conserve water, so which one wins out? It turns out there are certain #lifehacks to get your recyclables clean and dry enough without wasting too much water. Bottles containing liquids can be emptied and air-dried on their own. For those harder-to-clean recyclables, using lightly-used water (“gray water”) or fitting them into your dishwasher load should do the trick, and won’t use any extra water.
Read More: Because You Asked: How Can I Clean Recyclables Without Wasting Water?

8. Can I Recycle Styrofoam?
Yes, but not in your bin. Though foamed polystyrene (also known by the brand name Styrofoam) is technically plastic and usually marked as #6 within a triangle or recycling symbol, most curbside programs do not accept it in the bin. There are still other options for any foamed polystyrene that makes it your way, like taking it to a specialty recycling facility, or reusing it, especially if it’s in the form of packing peanuts.
Read More: Because You Asked: Can I Recycle Styrofoam?

9. What Is There To Do With Leftover Paint?
Depends on what type of paint it is. If it’s latex, there’s a chance it can be thrown away with your regular trash, once it’s completely dried out. If it’s an oil-based paint, it’s technically household hazardous waste (HHW), and can be disposed of with other hazardous items during community drop-off HHW events. However, if you’re lucky, you might live near a PaintCare drop-off location, where you can recycle both types of paint!
Read More: Because You Asked: What To Do With Leftover Paint?

10. Can I Recycle Dryer Sheets?
In short, no. Many dryer sheets are made with thin polyester, and covered in fabric softening and fragrance chemicals. Even if you choose a slightly more sustainable option, like ones made from unbleached paper, the essential oils used for fragrance would contaminate other papers you’d be recycling them with. All this being said, you can always reuse dryer sheets to help clean or deodorize around the house.
Read More: Because You Asked: Can I Recycle Dryer Sheets?



Which of these answers was the most useful to you? Vote below and share any of your own recycling questions in the comments!


Share with Your Friends & Family
  • Randy F. 30 days ago
    America's Independence: If you're reading this in the U.S. Happy Summer! Happy 4th!

  • Fortis O. 1 month ago
    I've been re-using those air pillow inflated packing bags for years. Primarily as re-used packing material. I've also been snipping the top of the bags and re-using them for storing hardware, small parts, etc. Does anyone else do this?
  • tommy b. 2 months ago
  • Mark M. 4 months ago
    Some curbside programs accept styrofoam in the bin, so the answer for that one should be "maybe" or "probably not."
  • Barbara W. 6 months ago
    Need some ideas for substituting cling wrap. They use it all the time on the cooking shows. Covering bread dough while rising for example......!
    • Peg P. 6 months ago
      Beeswax Wrap. You crinkle it up in your hands and the warmth makes it flexible and it will cling to the sides of most anything. It's also reusable and the more you use it, the better it gets. You can wash it in lukewarm (never hot) soapy water.
    • Carrie C. 4 months ago
      My mother used a slightly damp linen kitchen towel to cover bread dough. This provided moisture and kept the dough warm.
    • Steven S. 4 months ago
      What about buying glass bowls that have lids ?
    • Barbara W. 4 months ago
      Thanks I will look for it. In the typical Grocery store, Iam guessing?
    • Barbara W. 4 months ago
      Gosh, Now I also remember mom doing that!
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