10 Examples of Non-recyclable Materials

The recycling it is the process by which waste materials can be reused.

This reuse has the following benefits:

  • It can lower production costs.
  • Reduces waste produced and accumulated by man.
  • It reduces the cost of non-renewable resources.

These three objectives are part of the so-called ecological Three Rs, of which recycling is part:

  • Reduce. This principle goes against consumerism. The objective is to avoid consuming products that use disposable materials in excess, for example packaging. It also aims to avoid consuming unnecessary products.
  • Re-use. In cases where waste products are found, they can be reused without going through a recycling process. For example, the bottles can be used as bricks. When one sheet is used for printing, instead of being thrown away, it can be reprinted on the other side.
  • Recycle. It is the use not of the objects themselves, but of the material from which they are made. For example, a glass bottle can be recycled to be a glass. This process is much more complicated than reuse and, as we will see now, it cannot be done in all cases.

There are some materials that are usually considered non-recyclable but that in some places have the necessary facilities for recycling:

  • Flat glass. Window and car glass contain an amount of lead, even more than that contained in glass (which can be found, for example, in glasses). That is why it is often said that it cannot be recycled, since it cannot be mixed with bottle glass and other objects that do not contain lead. However, flat glass can be recycled with other glasses of the same characteristics. That is why it is important to find out about the recycling possibilities for each type of glass.
  • Lamps. Both incandescent and energy saving lamps are often considered non-recyclable due to their mix of materials (plastic, metal, glass) and the fragility of their glass. However, some cities have special places to recycle these lamps. The other option is to divide the elements of the lamp, but this is more difficult due to its fragility.

Examples of non-recyclable materials

  1. The different types of adhesive tapes (insulating, masking, packaging, jacket) cannot be recycled. They are made from untreated rubber. The support on which the glue is spread can be made of a variety of flexible materials: plastic, cloth, paper, or metal foil. In addition to not being recyclable, most of these materials are also not biodegradable, so they inevitably increase the amount of accumulated waste.
  2. Fax paper and tickets. The paper used to print faxes and to print credit card receipts is not recyclable because it is thermal paper. This means that the machines do not print through ink but through heat. That is why the paper must have special properties (a layer that covers it) that allows this type of printing.
  3. Laminated papers. The packaging of various products and magazine paper that is laminated cannot be recycled.
  4. Carbon paper
  5. Toilet paper and paper napkins. It is not paper itself but cellulose. It cannot be recycled but it is biodegradable.
  6. Cardboard tableware. Although cardboard is recyclable, cardboard cups and plates have a waterproof film that allows their use, but prevents their recycling.
  7. Any self-adhesive material. Post-its and labels cannot be recycled due to the glues they contain. For this reason, it is important to remove the labels from all the containers that we deposit in the recycling bins.
  8. Photos. They cannot be recycled due to the plastic layer they have.
  9. Expanded polystyrene. This material, which is also called Icopor, cannot be recycled despite being made mostly of plastic. When used with food, it is contaminated. In addition, because it has been injected with gases, its volume increases, which impairs its recycling. In addition, it is polluting and not biodegradable. For all these reasons, it can only be reused, for example as underlays for ceilings.
  10. Mirrors. They are a type of glass with a special composition that cannot be recycled.
  11. Ceramics (plates, cups, pots). It cannot be recycled due to the chemical process by which ceramic is produced: once the material has been fired it cannot return to its original state.
  12. Any material that has toxic substances, paint or fuels.