Recycling 101: how to stop wishcycling

March 15, 2023

Do you find yourself confused by recycling rules and complicated packaging labels?

It can be tempting to chuck something that you think ‘should’ be recyclable in the recycling bin and hope for the best. But ‘wishcycling’, where you put something in the recycling bin because you wish that was the right thing to do, is likely doing a lot of damage.

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. 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.

For these and other tips on how to recycle glasses, toothpaste tubes, teabags, 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.

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.


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