Drop-Off Recycling Centers: What Can't Be Dropped Off?

Recycling can have a great impact on the environment. Reusing old items and turning recyclable waste in to a recycling center can help to reduce the amount of garbage that goes into dumps and landfills. However, some items can't be recycled, and these can slow down the process of recycling waste. Before you pack up bags of recyclables, there are a few things you should know about what you shouldn't take to the recycling center.

Fast Food Containers

Fast food containers and wrappers may be covered in grease or have food scraps left behind. This means they can't be recycled. Some fast food restaurants package their items in polystyrene or other non-recyclable packaging. You should also avoid recycling pizza boxes unless they are free from grease and food waste. You can, however, recycle cardboard drink trays with your other cardboard items, so be sure not to throw them in the garbage.

Plastic Bags

While plastic bags can be recycled, they can slow the recycling process down at your local processing center. The people sorting the items will need to check inside each bag to make sure there is nothing inside, which can take time. The bags may also get stuck in conveyor belts at the recycling center. Instead of taking bags to your recycling center, take advantage of the recycling bins found at many grocery stores. You can place all your old plastic bags in the container, and they will be taken to a special processing location for recycling.


While clothing can definitely be reused, it can't be processed at your recycling center. Instead of throwing old clothing in your recycling bins, send it to a local donation center. If the clothing is not wearable, consider cutting it up for use as cleaning or dusting cloths. You can also use old clothing for DIY crafting projects.

Specialty Recycling Items

Some items need to be processed separately for recycling. Batteries, electronics, tires and fluorescent light bulbs can all be recycled, but they should not be added in with your regular recycling items. Metal items, such as pots and pans or aluminum bakeware should also be dropped off separately. Contact your recycling center ahead of time to see when and where specialty items can be dropped off. If you have copper wiring or other recyclables that have resale value, ask your recycling center if they have a process set up to buy these items. You can sometimes make a small amount of extra money recycling some specialty items.

It's always best to contact your recycling center before dropping off items. The center can let you know if it has any other restrictions for items you can and can't drop off for recycling processing.