What can we recycle?

Updated: Apr 3

I had the very scary realization yesterday that some people may not know what they can recycle. Due to lack of information, education and the assumption that we all know.

Maybe you know and you are thinking to yourself "this is a pointless blog". But we always have this assumption that everyone knows what we know and that isn't always true, and hey, you might learn something.

So below are listed things you can indeed recycle in Ireland. Under that is a lists of things that cannot be recycled and why.

What CAN be recycled

Rigid Plastics

Plastic drink bottles,

Cleaning bottles,

Butter containers,

Yogurt cartons,

Salad tubs,

Fruit and vegetable trays,

Plastic milk cartons and

Soap or shampoo bottles.

Plastic takeaway boxes,

Plastic meat packaging

All these items can be placed in your recycling bin, just make sure they are clean, dry and placed loosely in the bin.

Tins and Cans



Tin Foil

Whether an aluminum can has a pop-top or requires a can opener, the resulting metal piece can be recycled. It’s best to leave the disc slightly hanging and folded down into the can, but if it is detached it can still be placed in the recycling bin.

Tin Foil can also be recycled, so long as it is clean. These items can be placed in your recycling bin or bag. Just make sure they are clean, dry and placed loosely in the bin.

Caps, Lips, Tops

Plastic containers usually come with a plastic top. Contrary to popular belief, the plastic cap can be recycled as long as it’s reattached to the plastic container from which it came.

Tetra-Paks including milk cartons and juice cartons often come with small screw-off plastic caps. Those caps can be recycled as long as they are reattached to the Tetra-Pak.

Metal caps from glass jars. The top can be recycled as long as it’s placed in the recycling bin separate from the jar. Examples: tops from pasta sauce jars and jam jars,

Metal bottle caps from glass bottles. Small metal bottle caps can no longer be placed in your recycling bin loose. However, these bottle caps can be recycled. Place these bottle caps in an aluminum soup can until it is half full. Then, crimp the top of the can so that the bottle caps are trapped. Toss the crimped can in the recycling bin. Examples: beer bottle caps, wine bottle caps and olive oil bottle caps.

Paper and Cardboard



Egg boxes,


Cardboard tubes,

Tetra pac cartons,

Books - remove hardback if any.

Must be clean and dry before going in with the rest of your recycling.

If items and containers once contained food or liquid they must be rinsed clean and given a shake to remove the water before going into your recycling bin as food and liquid contaminates the materials in the recycling bin.

Your mixed recycle bin is sorted into different streams for recycling by people and machines in recycling facilities around the country. If you place items stacked inside one another the machines will not be able to sort them resulting in precious resources being lost.


Glass can of course be recycled, but care must be taken when you go to the bottle bank to sort out the colours correctly. Glass CANNOT be put into your household recycling bin, unless you have a special glass bin.

Electrical Appliances

These can only be recycled in your local recycling centre and not your recycling bin.


These can only be recycled in your local recycling centre and not your recycling bin.

Light Bulbs

These can only be recycled in your local recycling centre and not your recycling bin.

Plastic Cutlery

Technically it can be recycled but I am unsure if we can put them in the recycling bin. You are best off bringing them to our local recycling centre and asking there. Thankfully though a lot of places now use biodegradable cutlery.

What CANNOT be recycled

Coffee Cups

Despite popular belief, coffee cups cannot be recycled. Although they are made from paper there is a soft plastic lining that cannot be recycled. Invest in a reusable coffee cup, these can be found almost anywhere. I use my trusty Keep Cup (a Sea Shepard one of course) which I love. The other options are to sit in and drink your coffee, but make sure to request a proper cup and not a disposable (although, sometimes I've seen baristas, measure the coffee in a disposable cup, then put it into a cup or even a Keep Cup and then dump the disposable cup). Or you could just make your tea or coffee at home, saving money and the planet :)

Pizza Boxes

A dirty pizza box can potentially contaminate an entire bin of recycling material!

Cling Film

Unfortunately, cling wrap or film can't be recycled, the chemicals and resins added to make the cling film “clingy” and stretchable cannot be removed, making it too complex a plastic to recycle.

Soft Plastics

Non recyclable soft plastics include packaging for fruit, veg and dry goods like rice, pasta, crisp and sweet packets, plastic bags and the wrapping on meats. These items cannot be recycled in Ireland. Some countries have taken steps to reuse these plastics to make everyday products but Ireland is lagging behind.


This includes packing peanuts used in moving boxes, styrofoam coffee cups or food containers, coolers, etc. Styrofoam can neither be recycled nor does it biodegrade and you should be careful to limit your use of these types of products.

Certain Paper Products

Napkins, paper towels and tissue are generally considered too contaminated to recycle. Paper that is laminated or has a plastic coating, such as a frozen food box, cannot be recycled because the coating prevents the fibers from being broken down properly during the recycling process.


Oh how I hate straws. These cannot be recycled and can end up in ocean, check out this video of a poor turtle with a straw up his nose. If you need a straw for a medical reason, try paper, metal or bamboo straws.


It is recyclable, but if you recycle it with the rest of your plastics it will ultimately be sorted out and sent to a landfill.

To make sure most of the materials in your toothbrush get reused, you need to send it to a special recycling center.The Colgate Oral Care Recycling Program, a collaboration between Colgate and TerraCycle, accepts not just old toothbrushes but used toothpaste tubes and dental floss containers as well.

The easiest thing to do is just to buy a bamboo toothbrush.

Textiles / Clothing

Textiles is second largest polluter of clean water globally, after agriculture. The only thing we can do with our clothes is to bring them to a second hand shop or not constantly buy new clothes in this Fast Fashion world. I've a blog post about Fast Fashion which you can read here.

Food Waste

Hopefully an obvious one :) we should all have a compost bin and put all our food waste in there. I will write up a seperate blog if anyone is interested in learning more.

Of course there are so so many other things that I have not included on this list. The best thing you can do is to check the packaging yourself. Most will have the little green recycling sign. Which is not to be confused with the "made from recycled products" sign. Here is the difference.

If you have any questions at all, please leave me a comment.

I hope this blog was helpful.

Happy recycling,


Continue Reading:

What is Fast Fashion & The True Cost

5 Really Simple Ways to Reduce Your Plastic Usage

#Environment #Recycling #Climage #Planet #NoPlanetB #Earth #EarthDay