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5 items you can recycle… and 5 you might have thought you could

Published Friday, 20 September 2019

With Recycle Week (23 - 29 September) just around the corner, we thought we’d take a closer look at some of those items that can or cannot be recycled in East Northamptonshire.

Here are five common items that can go in your household’s recycling bin:

Greeting cards

From birthday to Christmas and every occasion in between, greeting cards can go into your recycling bins. But, remember, anything that is not made of card or paper, such as plastic, foil, ribbons, bows or buttons might affect the recycling process and should be removed beforehand.

Wrapping paper

Paper wrappings can also go into green lidded recycling bins in East Northamptonshire. But (like greeting cards) bows, sticky tape and ribbons should be removed and avoid placing paper made of mixed materials into your recycling. 

To put it simply, any paper that scrunches into a ball is perfect for recycling, but if it springs back into shape then it probably contains plastic and wouldn’t be suitable for recycling.

Aerosol cans

Once you have finished and emptied that aerosol can, the whole item, including the plastic lid can be placed into your bin for recycling. Roughly 60% of aerosols are made from tinplated steel and are approximately 40% are made from aluminium - both of which can be recycled. Most recycling facilities usually have processes which can deal with the non-metal elements.

If you want to make the recycling process a little easier, ideally remove the plastic cap from the empty can and place it separately into the recycling bin.

Foil including takeaways containers

Household foil and takeaway containers can be recycled in East Northamptonshire. All that is required is that the foil is as clean as possible and trays should be rinsed before being placed into recycling bins.

Other aluminium items such as drinks cans, screw top lids, aluminium trays and barbeque trays can also be recycled. Steel tins, such as food, drink and pet food can also be placed in your green lidded recycling bins.

Sweet Tubs

It is encouraged to reuse items like sweet and biscuit tubs for other uses, such as for storage, but understand this is not always possible. As such any unusable large plastic sweet tubs and similar items should be placed into your recycling bin.

Unfortunately, at the moment not everything is recyclable, and here are some items that have turned up in recycling bins across East Northamptonshire and can’t be recycled:

Ash or vacuum cleaner dust

This is one of the most common items that are mistakenly placed in recycling bins across East Northamptonshire. 

Ash and vacuum dust cannot be recycled and placing dust into your recycling bin makes the recyclable items dirty and more difficult to sort. It should be placed in your household waste bin, but ash should be allowed to cool down completely before being placed in the refuse bin.

Hard plastic including toys

If the toys are still in good condition, you could consider donating them to a local charity. If this is not possible, non-electrical toys will have to go into your general waste bin. Larger items or those containing electrical components can be taken to a local household waste recycling centre.

Toothpaste tubes

These can be difficult to recycle because some tubes contain many different components, including metal and plastic and are also very difficult to clean. This also applies to other squeezable tubes such as for products like sun cream, hand cream and moisturisers.

Food and drink cartons (sometimes known as Tetrapak)

Tetrapak and composite packaging cannot be easily recycled. Once Tetrapaks and similar materials enter the recycling process, they could end up contaminating the fibre lines as the type of material used during manufacture has a bonded plastic or foil element which cannot be easily separated and recycled. 

East Northamptonshire Council are continually reviewing what is able to be collected, working with the sorting facility to ensure the maximum amount of material is recycled and Tetrapak is top of our list.

Bubble wrap or padded envelopes

With a rise in internet shopping, there has also been a rise in the number of padded envelopes and bubble wrap being used. At the moment, these items cannot be recycled in East Northamptonshire and should be placed into your household waste bin. Alternatively, old bubble wrap and padded envelopes could be reused and resent.

For more information on recycling in East Northamptonshire, please visit