Almost everything can be recycled. It is just a matter of whether there is a market for that recycled material, and if someone is collecting it. Outside of curbside recycling of glass, cardboard, metal and plastic, there are a number of things that can be recycled or reused in some way.

1. Plastic film
Clean plastic wrap from linens, sleeves of disposable items and other dry goods can be recycled. Large, bailed volumes of it can be sold.

2. Wine Corks
ReCork America is an organization that recycles wine corks into useful material like flooring, insulation and countertops. Also, local school or material exchange organizations may take your corks for art projects.

3. Styrofoam
Styrofoam isn’t the easiest thing to recycle, but it can be done. Some places may charge a small fee for rigid foam like what electronics are packed in while many shipping stores will gladly take your Styrofoam peanuts.

4. Electronics
Electronics recycling is a huge global issue. Virtually all electronics contain toxic material; some in large amounts like CRT TVs and monitors, which contain between 5 and 15 pounds of lead. Depending on the item, you may pay a small fee to recycle them, but it is well worth the cost to keep pounds of lead and other toxic chemicals out of your local landfill. Did you know liquid from landfills winds up in waste water systems that are not made to filter toxic chemicals?

In addition to things that use electricity, electronic media like CDs, videotapes, CD cases and floppy disks are all recyclable. Check for an electronic recycler near you.

Only recycle electronics with reputable recyclers as some companies ship them to China and Africa where the electronics are improperly disposed of (burned), often by children. Learn more about the problems with global electronics recycling from the Basel Action Network.

5. Fluorescent lights
Fluorescent lights contain tiny amounts of mercury so they are usually illegal to throw in the trash – particularly by businesses. Many lighting stores, some hardware stores and some solid waste management departments collect linear tubes and CFLs for safe disposal. There is usually a small fee of about $.10 per ft of bulb.

6. Chemicals/Hazardous Waste
Old cleaning chemicals should not be dumped down the drain or in the garbage. Call your county waste management department to find local option for proper disposal.

7. Construction Waste
I speak from personal experience when I say recycling construction waste is easier than one may expect. Construction workers are usually very bad about recycling anything, but if you give them the ability to (and tell them to) they will recycle. Wood, wire, cement, conduit, nails, and basically anything metal are all recyclable. Old or unused tile, drywall, scrap wood, lighting and plumbing fixtures, doors, windows, etc. can all be sold, given away on Craigslist or a local Freecycle group, or donated to reuse centers.

8. Candle Wax
A restaurant I’ve worked with uses candles on the tables. One of the daily jobs is to warm the remaining wax from spent candles under the heat lamp then pour out the wax and put in a new one. One of the servers who liked to make candles started pouring the wax into take-out containers to make recycled candles. The management quickly realized how much wax was going to waste. We calculated they had thrown away an entire dumpster of wax in the ten years they had been open. They now donate the wax to a non-profit that teaches art classes.

9. Bottle Caps
Like wine corks and old candle wax, bottle caps are sometimes used in schools for art projects. Metal recyclers will also take them in larger quantities (at least a bucket). It doesn’t really take that long to collect a bucket’s worth.

10. Old wares, broken wares (70% metal)
Old broken tongs, ladles or anything at least 70% can be recycled, often in the standard curbside recycling – ask your waste hauler.

11. Wood
Wood crates, pallets or scrap from construction can often be recycled at yard debris composters. Pallet companies will often pick up your unwanted pallets for free.

12. Wax Cardboard
While wax cardboard cannot be recycled, it can be composted. All commercial composting facilities will take waxed cardboard. Remove any tape first.

13.  Printer Cartridges
All remanufactured toner cartridges stores take back printer cartridges regardless of whether they refill them or not. They will also take POS printer ribbons for recycling, but most do not remanufacture them. Also, many office stores have started taking back printer cartridges.


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