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Recycling Right: What Materials Are Actually Accepted

Group of Children Gathering Recyclable ItemsAs a Charlestown renter, you may be contemplating what you can do to live more sustainably. For most individuals, sustainable living begins with recycling plastic, cardboard, or other materials. But what many don’t know is that not all of these things can be recycled. Just because a certain thing is made of plastic, glass, metal, or cardboard does not automatically mean it can be recycled. And placing non-recyclable items into a recycling bin is kind of a big waste of your time as well as that of the processing center. Here’s some advice that may help you recycle the right way.


To distinguish which plastic materials are recyclable and which aren’t, experts suggest going by container shape. As a general rule, plastic bottles, jugs, jars, and tubs can be recycled. Just make sure to rinse out and dry each container before placing it in the recycling bin.

But mind you, the list of plastic items that cannot be recycled is pretty long, so don’t let it come as a surprise to you. To cite a few examples, plastic utensils and straws are not recyclable, but plastic food containers and water bottles usually are. Other things that cannot be recycled include Styrofoam, plastic shower curtains, syringes, and medical waste.

Moreover, plastic shopping bags, shrink wrap, and other kinds of the plastic wrap should not be placed in your recycling center. These materials usually clog up the machines, and they also end up in the landfill. So instead, these things are typically recycled separately at drop-off locations in grocery stores. Finally, do not place recycling in bags – the bag will cause issues at the processing center.


Recycling glass can be more complicated than a lot of people think, mainly because processing centers don’t allow certain types of glass. In some areas, the centers will not allow any glass at all. While others will only permit a certain kind of glass. Make certain to check the rules at your local processing center prior to placing glass items in the trash.

However, there are some types of glass that are just not recyclable at all. Some examples would be windows and mirrors, eyeglasses, vases, oven-safe ceramic cookware or dishes, and fluorescent light tubes. Due to the fact that these items have been treated with coatings or contain hazardous chemicals, they can in no way be safely recycled and should be disposed of through other processes.


The same as glass, not all processing centers accept metal for recycling. Generally speaking, if you own metal items and would want to recycle them, you’ll need to look for a place specializing in metal recycling. Many regular processing centers will not allow metals like car parts, propane cylinders, aerosol cans, clothes hangers, and so on.

Likewise, old televisions and electronics may not be easily sent to your local recycling center. The electronic components of these items can become more complex than most recycling centers can handle. Instead, try to search for a certain local electronics shop that will accept your old electronics. Certain companies will allow old electronics, including cell phones and tablets, that are broken or not anymore wanted.

Cardboard, Paper, and Wood

Certain cardboard, paper, and wood can be safely recycled, while others are to be placed in the trash bin instead. Most processing centers will allow newspapers, notebook paper, and magazines. It’s the same for flattened packing boxes, cereal boxes, and food delivery boxes. Untreated wood items are also generally all right, but it depends on what items your local recycling center is willing to take.

Still, it’s essential to note that certain cardboard, paper, and wood types are not recyclable. This includes grease-soaked pizza boxes (a few streaks of oil is okay), waxed paper cartons, and treated wood, including painted or stained furniture. Books and some types of paper are also not recyclable, so it’s vital to separate your paper items carefully before placing them in the trash bin.


By recycling correctly, you can help your community as a renter. But if your neighborhood will not support your desire for more sustainability, Real Property Management Commonwealth can help! You can check out our listings online or call at 617-299-2342.

We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.