Recycling 101: how to stop wishcycling

March 15, 2023

Ever found yourself stood between the waste bin and recycling bin wondering, yet again, where your black plastic takeaway boxes should go?

It can be tempting to chuck something that you think ‘should’ be recyclable in the recycling bin and hope for the best – surely someone will pick it out along the way if it isn’t right? But ‘wishcycling’, where wishful thinking and recycling meet head on, is likely doing a lot of damage, despite your good intentions.

Recycling is tricky, and with complicated labels and strict bin collection rules to understand it is no wonder we end up playing it safe with recyclables going in the bin, and ‘wishcycling’ our waste into the recycling. The rules for paper and aluminium cans are easy enough to understand, but what about pizza boxes and kitchen foil? Luckily, this article offers answers on some of the most confusing household items to try to recycle (or not, as the case may be). Here are some tips for items you may already be wondering about:

  • Contact lenses and packaging Specsavers stores collect contact lenses and lens packaging and recycle them with a company that turns them into construction materials. Alternatively, Boots Opticians recycle returned lenses and packaging through TerraCycle.
  • Black plastic takeaway boxes – though these were difficult to recycle in the past due to a tricky carbon, this issue is mostly solved now. The majority of local authorities will take these boxes, though a small amount remain who don’t so be sure to check first.
  • Pizza boxes – can be recycled unless they are really dirty, though grease stains are fine.
  • Kitchen foil – can mostly be recycled in your kerbside collection, but check with your council first. Alternatively, take it to a local recycling centre, ideally scrunched up tightly into a ball.
  • Pots and pans – can be recycled at a council metal recycling point, even with a non-stick coating like Teflon.
  • Pyrex dishes and drinking glasses – the different melting point for Pyrex compared to normal glass causes problems in the recycling process and means Pyrex cannot be put with glass recycling.

For these and other tips on how to recycle glasses, insulin pens, coffee pods, and more check out the full article here. Another great resource offering localised tips is Recycle Now, who can tell you exactly what is and isn’t recyclable at home and at recycling centres in your area.

Joint Waste Solutions has a similar tool, and can also tell you where to find local recycling centres. It is worth remembering, however, that ideally recycling should be a last resort, only for items that cannot be reused or repurposed. Check out advice on reducing what you throw away here.


View our upcoming events

our ACtivity

Get in touch

Follow Us