Debunking recycling myths

Ever wondered if what you’ve heard about recycling is true? Here are some facts about recyclables, non-recyclables, and a few recycling dos and don’ts.
  • Rinse out all containers you place in the recycling bin; that includes bottles, cans, and food containers. If the item still has food remnants it can contaminate the entire bin and then none of the items inside the bin can be recycled. 
  • Plastic bottles, pails, tubs, and jugs can be recycled if they have the recycle symbol on the bottom with the number 1, 2, or 5.
  • Coffee cups with a wax liner cannot be recycled. But more often than not, the lid can be recycled, just look for the recycle symbol and be sure to rinse it off.
  • Paper, including old magazines and homework assignments, can be recycled, but photos, sticky notes, and paper that is soiled cannot.
  • You do not need to remove staples when recycling papers but remove as much tape as possible from an item before tossing it in the recycling bin.
  • Gift wrap that is made out of paper can be recycled, but metallic and plastic wrapping paper cannot.
  • Cut or rip off any parts of cardboard (like pizza boxes) that are soiled and recycle what is clean.
  • There is no need to remove labels from recyclables, those will be removed as the materials are processed for manufacturing.
  • Do not put your recyclables in a plastic bag.
  • Aerosol cans (such as air freshener, cleaning products, hair spray, sunscreen, etc.) can be recycled as long as all of the contents are used and the can is completely empty.
  • Recycling helps save energy. When products are made from recycled materials, on average, 50% less energy is used than making them from new materials.
  • While it is true that trash will decompose over time, your non-recycled plastics can take up to 1,000 years to decompose and glass can take thousands of years.


items that can be recycled: plastic bottles, food containers, large plastic jugs, newspaper, magazines, old homework, cardboard, cans, bottles, jars

*Electronics Recycling Center: Located near USD's west entrance, 5330 Linda Vista Rd, San Diego, CA 92110. 

*Items that cannot be recycled in campus bins

  • Snack/chip bags, styrofoam peanuts/containers, foil, wax paper, and plastic wrap
  • Broken glass, ceramics, and mirrors
  • Plastic straws/utensils, paper towels, napkins, and tissues
  • Food scraps (compost them!)
  • Electronics, batteries, and light bulbs can be recycled but they need to be taken to the Electronics Recycling Center, which will take both operable and not working items.
  • Plastics with a recycle number of 3, 4, 6, or 7 on the bottom