June 18, 2018 Recycling Written by Emily Folk
Things difficult to recycle
You’ve made a commitment to live as green as

possible and be kind to the environment. Sometimes this is a quick matter of throwing aluminum cans into the recycling bin, but what about those items that are hard to recycle and you have no idea what to do with them? Here is a list of hard to recycle items and how you can recycle them:

1. Plastic bottle lids

Reusable drinking bottles save the environment over disposable bottles of water or other beverages. They can be used over and over again, but with time, the plastic breaks down, gets lost or otherwise compromised. If you’re like most people, you have mismatched plastic bottle lids just sitting around. Fortunately, you can recycle these into plastic benches.

Green Tree Plastics is one company turning lids into benches. They work with schools to provide benches in exchange for so many pounds of bottle lids and a smaller payment than buying a bench outright.

2. Plastic shopping bags

You likely already use reusable bags, but for that rare time you forget to take your totes along, you may gather a collection of these thin plastic shopping bags.

They can’t go in the regular recycling bins, but what you can do with them is take them back to your local grocery store. Most chain groceries have a receptacle for used plastic shopping bags.

3. Broken china

There really isn’t any viable option for reusing or recycling broken china.

One option is to take the more colorful pieces and create beautiful mosaic tabletops, or make some pretty stepping stones for the garden.

You could also turn it into art by breaking into smaller pieces and creating some type of design, gluing down, framing and hanging on the wall.

4. Disposable diapers

In the United States, there are 24 million diapers used annually, which adds about 3.4 million tons of waste to landfills across the country. Diapers are not built to disintegrate easily. In addition, feminine hygiene products present a similar issue.

One option is to switch to cloth diapers, but that is sometimes very inconvenient. However, help may be on the horizon. One Canadian company has created a process where 98 percent of the plastic and fiber in diapers and feminine hygiene products is cleaned and made reusable.

5. Shredded paper

Paper is an excellent candidate for recycling, but shredded paper is not. At the same time, sensitive information often needs to be shredded to protect your personal information.

There are a few things you can do to reuse shredded paper, though. You can use it to pack delicate glass away, for example. You also could use it for pet bedding, making paper mache products, or as mulch in your landscaping.

6. Batteries

Batteries have a limited shelf life, unless you’ve invested in rechargeable ones, and even those fizzle out over time. What do you do with those batteries once you’ve used them up?

You can’t just throw them in the recycle bin, but you can locate a drop off at a local business or utility office with the national Call to Recycle Program.

7. Old trophies

You were thrilled with that trophy for “most improved player” at the time, but now it is just gathering dust. What in the world do you do to get rid of an old trophy, though?

It’s not as if anyone else wants a trophy with your name on it. Fortunately, there is a program that recycles trophies and turns them into art. The art is then donated to children’s groups such as the Special Olympics.

Hard to recycle items

Learn to look at the world in a new way. That item that seems impossible to recycle might be just what a local group needs to make something new and exciting.

Put on your crafty hat and figure out if you can take junk and turn it into treasure, upcycling it for a new purpose. With a bit of determination, you can recycle even those hard to recycle items.


This is a guest post written by Emily Folk.
Emily is a conservation and sustainability writer.
She is the editor of Conservation Folks, and you can see her latest updates by following her on Twitter.