Welcome to Bay Disposal’s blog, where we strive to answer your most pressing questions about recycling and waste disposal in Hampton Roads, VA and Corolla, NC. This week we’ve compiled list of frequently asked about or incorrectly recycled items.

Many items that should not be recycled often are, simply because we want them to be recyclable; this practice is known as ‘aspirational recycling.’

What we don’t realize is that by trying to recycle something that’s not recyclable, we could be ruining an entire batch of otherwise good recycling.

Take a look at our list, and be sure that you’re not tossing any of these nonrecyclable items into the blue bin with good intentions … but bad consequences.

Ready? Let’s Get Detailed.

Can I recycle egg cartons?

It depends. If your egg cartons are styrofoam, then they’re not recyclable. Opt for the recyclable cardboard alternative, which typically also denotes that the wildlife was treated more humanely. If your cardboard egg carton is covered in egg goo, however, it is not recyclable.

Can I recycle plastic clothes hangers?

Some are recyclable, others aren’t—and it’s nearly impossible to tell which is which. That’s why, with items like plastic hangers, it’s best to fall back on the other Rs: reduce and reuse. Leave the clothes hangers at stores, use them in your own closet or see if a friend needs any, or donate them to a thrift shop.

Can I recycle plastic bags?

Plastic bags cannot be recycled, unfortunately. Their light, floaty nature often causes them to jam recycling equipment, costing the facility time and money for repairs. Your local Target has a plastic bag return area upfront; save up your bags for your next Target run.

Can I recycle styrofoam?

NO, styrofoam is not recyclable. It is toxic and its use should be avoided at all costs. If you must use styrofoam, try to find a use for it, rather than tossing it. Use cups to scoop pet food or kitty litter; use the egg cartons to hold jewelry or collectables; etc.

Can I recycle shredded paper?

No, the light strips of paper are likely to flutter loose and potentially slip through cracks in the recycling center, ending up in a landfill eventually.

Can I recycle paper towels?

While the paper itself is recyclable, the fibers comprising the paper towel have likely been recycled before, lowering the quality and likelihood of recycling being possible again.

Can I recycle pizza boxes?

Pizza boxes are one of the most commonly misunderstood recyclables. If the box is soiled with grease, then that part of it cannot be recycled. However, the top of the box is likely fine to toss into your blue bin (as long as it’s not greasy or covered in cheese or toppings).

Can I recycle bubble wrap?

Like plastic shopping bags, bubble wrap is technically recyclable but poses issues with your local recycling and waste disposal company.

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Can I recycle aerosol cans?

Due to the pressurized air trapped inside, most aerosol cans are not recyclable. Finish off what you have, then try to find alternative products with more sustainable packaging.

Can I recycle mirrors?

Due to a reflective coating on the surface, most mirrors are not recyclable. Be sure to carefully wrap any broken mirrors before disposing of them, to protect your local sanitation workers.

Can I recycle batteries?

Batteries should not be thrown in with household recycling, due to the toxic chemicals contained inside them. Toss them into the regular trash.

We hope you find this informative and helpful, responsible recycler. Now go forth, and save the world.