What TO and what NOT TO recycle


Special to The Prospector

Closeup portrait woman hand throwing empty plastic water bottle in recycling bin.

Rene Delgadillo, Multimedia Editor

How many times have you seen your neighbor throw the pizza box in the blue bin that is supposed to be used to recycle?

Well, according to the Environmental Services Department this is among many of the reasons why the average rate of contamination in the blue bins has increased in the last 10 years. In 2008 the average contamination rate was about 13 percent, which has increased now to 33 percent.

ESD explains that recyclable items that have different kinds of liquids, grease and food end up contaminating the recycling process.

There’s lots of misinformation about the items that can and can’t be recycled. Check out this list of items that should go inside of your blue bin, provided by ESD El Paso and test your knowledge on recycling.

Recyclables should not contain food residue or be put in a bag before being placed in the blue bin. Rinse plastic and metal items. For more information visit elpasotexas.gov/recycle


• Usable or empty aerosol cans           

• Anti-freeze                    

• Appliances          

• Auto batteries

• Batteries                  

• Carpets & carpet pads               

• Charcoal lighter           

• Cleaning fluids                

• Clothing/shoes

• Construction materials

• Cooking oil (used)          

• Degreasers

• Diapers

• Drain cleaners          

• Electronics                    

• Fluorescent light bulbs      

• Food & food contaminated   products    

• Furniture (rot reusable)               

• Furniture (reusable)                    

• Furniture polish                    

• Glass         

• Oil & filters (used)          

• Paint         

• Paper towels/napkins facial tissues      

• Pesticides & other household chemicals                    

• Pool chemicals         

• Pool tarps/covers     

• Rust removers



• Newspaper and advertising inserts

• Junk or advertising mail and envelopes

• All office paper

• Colored or white paper

• Paperback and hardback books (all soft, hardcovers should be ripped off)

• Magazines, catalogs and phone books

• Wrapping paper with no foil or glitter

• Shredded paper (only item that should be bagged)

• Paper bags (place 5-6 bags in each bag)

• Unused paper cups and plates

• Construction paper

• Heavyweight folders

• Holiday or birthday cards

• Postcards


• Yogurt, dairy and margarine tubes and lids

• Milk, juice, soda and other beverage bottles and their caps

• Shampoo and conditioner bottles

• Window, bathroom, and kitchen cleaning bottles

• Detergent and fabric softener bottles

• Bubble wrap

• CD cases

• Shrink wrap

• Clear deli trays

• Empty prescription or over the counter medicine vials and caps

• Stadium cups

• Durable reusable containers and lids 9 Tupperware-type materials)

• Clamshell containers (those that have a black base and a clear lid)

• Rigid plastics (laundry baskets, lawn furniture, buckets and toys. You can place these items in your blue bin if they can fit with the lid closed)

• Food jars and squeezable bottles (mayonnaise mustard, ketchup, salad dressing, vegetable oils, barbecue sauce, and syrup)


• Cereal and dry food boxes (without the liner)

• Cardboard egg cartons

• Flattened cardboard boxes (free of Styrofoam or peanuts)

• Tissue boxes

• Kitchen or toilet paper rolls

• Toothpaste box

• Shoe boxes (must be empty)

• Gift boxes (free of wrapping paper, ribbon, or tape)

• Cracker boxes


• Soda and another aluminum cans

• Canned food cans and their caps or lids

• Clean aluminum foil

• Clean aluminum trays

• Clothes hangers (bundled)

• Pots or pans (without wood, plastic or rubber attachments)