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Climate Action Corner: Re-cycling vs. “Wish-cycling”

Re-cycling vs. “Wish-cycling”: Know the difference!

Here are some of the most common items to KEEP OUT of the recycling bin:

  1. Plastic Bags: Many people add soft plastic bags to their recycling bin, or even bag their recyclables in plastic before adding them to their cart. But soft plastic bags can clog machines. Most recyclers do not accept film plastic of any kind. Check below to see what is accepted in your city.

  2. Food containers...with food: If it’s got food stains or grease on it, it doesn’t belong in recycling. Lucky for us pizza lovers, cardboard boxes can be composted as can other food-soiled paper, as long as they’re not lined with plastic. Boxes with a shiny interior are most often lined with plastic and cannot be recycled nor composted. Napkins and paper towels should always go in the compost.  

  3. Wrapping paper and receipts: Shiny, metallic wrapping paper and glittery cards are all non-recyclable and can contaminate an entire bin of paper. Cash register receipts are mostly not recyclable. If it is on thermal paper, it contains nasty chemicals. Toss it!

When in doubt, throw it out!

To view details about the top 10 offenders to keep out of recycling bins, click here. To learn more about what really can be recycled check with the recyclers for your city:

For a quick guide, visit and then choose Berkeley or Oakland Questions about large items, visit: or check out this helpful summary.


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