To recycle or to not recycle? That is the question which faces many of us when we’re clearing out obscure household items. Where should it go? Should you just chuck it? Peel Region has an extensive list of things you should and shouldn’t recycle, but this list covers 20 of the most common items that should not go into the recycling bin.

1. Aerosol Cans

Aerosol cans can be recycled, but only if they are completely empty. If even a bit of liquid remains it’s considered a hazardous material and can’t be put in with regular recycling. To remove all excess liquid, spray into a rag until it stops making noise.

2. Batteries

Batteries shouldn’t go in with your conventional recycling. Environment Canada reports that Canadians threw away nearly 500 million batteries in 2010. But batteries contain heavy metals that will eventually leak from corrosion and pose a risk when they leak from landfills into drinking water.

3. Pizza boxes

Because of the grease that gets absorbed in pizza boxes, the process to recycle them becomes difficult. When paper and cardboard are recycled they’re placed in water to create a slurry. But pizza boxes, and anything with grease for that matter, will cause oil to form in the refining process, and that oil can’t be separated from paper.

4. Bubble Wrap

7. Ever wondered if bubble wrap is recyclable? It isn’t. And neither are blister cards for gum, lozenges, or medication. All of these go into the garbage.

5. Empty Deodorant Containers

In Peel Region, empty deodorant containers are not recyclable or compostable. The Region recommends you consider reusing or donating this item, or put it in the garbage

6. Dental Floss & Containers

Dental floss and its container aren’t recyclable. Dental floss, in particular, is a nylon coated fiber which is not recyclable or compostable. The plastic dispenser is a non-recyclable composite mix of plastic resins and metal meaning it can’t be recycled either. Both should go in the garbage.

7. Scrap Metal

Appliances, auto parts, wires, pipes, and anything of the sort shouldn’t be put in your regular blue recycling bin, it should instead be taken to a Community Recycle Centre (CRC). If it’s placed at the curb it will be left behind.

8. Textiles

Clothing, bedding and other items like it shouldn’t go in the recycling.

9. Hardcover & Spiral Bound Books

In order for hard cover books, bound journals and spiral notebooks to be recycled, the cover and spiral bindings need to be removed and put in the garbage. The remaining paper can then be recycled.

10. Wood

If you have wood, lumber or tree branches trimmed into 1.2-meter pieces and weigh no more than 20 kg, you can put them to the curb from March to December as yard waste. Anything bigger or heavier needs to be taken to a Recycle Centre, or if it can fit with the lid closed, it can also be placed in garbage carts.

11. Wet Paper

While wet paper seems harmless, it isn’t an ideal product for recycling because moisture harms the paper fibers making them brittle. This makes it unsuitable for recycling but on the flip side it’s perfect for the compost bin.

12. Household Chemicals

Household chemicals are considered hazardous waste so they shouldn’t go in with your regular recycling. There’s really only one safe way to dispose of them and it’s taking it to a hazardous waste centre. They shouldn’t be poured down the drain, either, because they can corrode plumbing and contaminate waterways. They also can’t be thrown in the trash because once in a landfill, they can leach into the earth and contaminate water and soil.

13. Paper Coffee Cups

We’ve all hesitated when throwing out our Starbucks and Tims Cups — should it go in the garbage slot or the recycling slot? You won’t have to hesitate ever again because it should go in the garbage. Turns out that the thin plastic film that covers coffee cups can contaminate the recycling process, which isn’t equipped to separate plastic from paper.

14. Paper Towels & Tissues

While paper towels, tissues, and napkins are made of recyclable materials, once they’re used to collect particles of food and other materials, they can contaminate whole batches of recycled materials during the refining process. While they can’t go in with the rest of your paper waste, they can be put in your compost bin.

15. Shrink Wrap

There are a few types of shrink wraps and plastic wraps that aren’t recyclable. This includes any type of cling wrap or Saran wrap. It also includes plastic wrap/bags that hold instant noodles, rice, pasta and other dried food/cracker items. Other types of non-recyclable plastic wraps or film include bacon packages, cheese wrappers, vacuum sealed meats, soy or soy protein products etc. These should go in the garbage.

16. Pet Food Bags

Most pet food bags are lined with plastic or wax, making them unrecyclable. Put these in the garbage.

17. Ceramics

Ceramics like plates, cups, dishes, tiles, countertops, vanities and sinks can’t be recycled, but they can be taken to Community Recycling Centre (CRC) locations to be reused or donated to Habitat for Humanity, Salvation Army or another local thrift store. If you’d like to put them at the curb you can too. The best way to do so is to place them in an open rigid container with a note stating “Please take as garbage.”

18. Wire Hangers

Wire hangers are awkwardly shaped, making them difficult to process in recycling centres. While they can’t be recycled, CRC centres will take them if they’re in good shape. There’s also the option to donate them to a local thrift store or dry cleaners. They can be placed at the curb for pickup in a marked box as well.

19. Shredded Paper

In Peel shredded paper isn’t accepted in recycling bins because it can “contaminate material streams at the Material Recovery Facility”. So, due to its shredded state, it’s not an ideal product for recycling. It can go in your green cart or be included in your yard waste, though.

20. Certain Types of Glass

Old mirrors, window panes, and drinking glasses can’t be recycled like standard glass because they are treated with chemicals. These can be donated or put into the trash.

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