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7 things you shouldn’t place in a Dallas recycling bin

Everyone knows that recycling is good for the environment and helps maximize the use of raw materials by using them over and over again. Unfortunately, I see recycling being done incorrectly all the time. I think a lot of people mean well and put things they are uncertain about in the recycling bin, hoping for the best. Perhaps they are assuming that if it can’t be recycled, they’ll just “pull it out” and throw it away at the facility.

But in doing so, many people are creating more work for someone else down the line, and that’s never a good idea.

It is important to remember that just because something is recyclable, that that does not mean that it can be recycled. A material must be both for a material recovery facility (MRF) to process it. After all, some recyclable materials are just too difficult to actually recycle, and sometimes there is simply no market for them.

These are not the only 7 things that shouldn’t go in your blue bin, but keeping these out would be a great help to the Dallas Sanitation Department.

(For the record, I do not work for or speak for the City of Dallas or any of its departments. This is just valuable information I’ve learned and want to pass along.)

1. Pizza boxes: Yes, you can recycle corrugated cardboard, and yes, pizza boxes are corrugated cardboard. However, pizza boxes are also saturated with oil, which contaminates the paper recycling process. If the top of the pizza box is clean and contains no grease, you can cut it off and recycle that part, but if it has grease or food on it, throw it in the garbage instead.

2. Paper envelopes padded with bubble wrap: These envelopes are convenient for mailing, but can’t be recycled. On their own, paper and plastic are both recyclable, but there is no way to easily separate the two for recycling, so it is best to go ahead and trash them. Better yet, repurpose them for storing breakable or delicate objects, such as seasonal frames or ornaments, or even jewelry.

3. Keurig Coffee Pods: Coffee grounds can be composted and the plastic pods are recyclable, but like the paper padded envelopes mentioned above, there’s no way to efficiently or cost-effectively separate the two for processing. Additionally, Keurig pods are small enough to fall through the rollers at an MRF, which can potentially cause problems for the facility equipment. Keurig pods belong in the trash, not the recycling bin.

4. Shredded paper: Shredded paper is recyclable, too, although it does not yield the high-quality fibers so desired by the industry. However, the problem with dumping recycled paper in your blue bin is that it contaminates the other recyclables because it cannot be separated for processing. Just don’t do it.

5. Styrofoam packing peanuts: Like shredded paper, Styrofoam contaminates the recycling stream and is not accepted by the city of Dallas. Find a local recycler online and leave it out of the bin. Alternately, use if for home storage of breakable items, or ask a shipping store if they can reuse it.

6. Plastic bags: Again, the plastic in plastic bags is recyclable, but like so much discussed here, they cannot be processed at an MRF because they get tangled up in the conveyor belts and machinery. Keep your plastic bags for reuse, or save them and then drop them off at a location that collects them for recycling (like a grocery store).

7. Wire hangers: Ever notice how easily wire hangers get tangled while hanging in your closet. Now imagine what they do to the processing machinery at an MRF. Don’t place them in the blue bins.

Find out more about recycling in Dallas at

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