Recycling is an excellent habit, though it requires you to pay special attention to your waste. Unfortunately, despite your best intentions, varying material labels and conditions can make these practices confusing. Often, items that end up curbside belong in specialized recycling centers or aren't recyclable at all. To make the most of your waste, avoid these common mistakes.

What Recycling Mistakes Should You Avoid?

1. Food & Grease

Recycling containers with food or liquid residue inside them is a common mistake. Leftover food debris and grease can make materials unusable and possibly contaminate other items if they spill over. To avoid this, check, empty, and rinse out your containers as necessary.

2. Plastic Bags

While many single-use plastic bags are recyclable, they require a separate recycling center to be processed. When discarded in regular curbside bins, they risk getting tangled in sorting machines. The best practice is to collect plastic bags separately and return them to the nearest recycling center that accepts them.

3. Styrofoam Products

recycling center

From shipping materials to egg and meat packaging, you encounter styrofoam more than you may realize. This is a mixture of chemical and synthetic materials that are considered contaminants in curbside recycling.

Styrofoam is therefore rejected by standard recycling plants, as it can cause entire batches of recycled materials to be unusable. While many styrofoam items possess the recycling symbol, they generally require specialized disposal.

4. Used Batteries

Though batteries are labeled as recyclable, they can't be processed by regular recycling centers. Separate discarded batteries from your standard bin, and bring them to a facility that can process them. Some buildings and offices advertise battery drop-offs and can take care of these materials for you.

5. Construction Waste

During home renovation or construction jobs, waste quickly piles up. In the rush to remove mountains of materials, it's common to overlook how much can be recycled. Specialized facilities can process everything from concrete to metals, such as aluminum and steel, so sort the waste by material for organized, proper recycling.


If you need a full-service waste removal company, turn to Green Earth in Harrisonburg, VA. Backed by over 20 years in the industry, they offer a wide range of services to residents of the Shenandoah Valley area. From front-load dumpster and roll-off container rentals to curbside recycling, they’re ready to help. Contact them at (540) 801-8668 with any questions you have, or visit them online to explore more of their services.