It’s a question you’ve likely asked yourself before, whether you were holding a pair of dead batteries or inspecting a plastic bag. The answer is important, but truth be told, it isn’t always obvious. Every now and then, you’ll be hard-pressed to determine if something should go in the recycling bin or in the trash. That’s why, in this article, we’re taking a look at seven products that have left us wondering, ‘Can I recycle this?’

Let’s start with batteries.

From watches to cars, these packs of chemical energy power nearly every gadget around us. That is, until they run out of energy themselves. When this happens, there are several ways in which you can dispose of them responsibly, depending on the battery type.

Automobile and rechargeable batteries can be taken to a Beaver County Recycling Center, but don’t toss them in the bin with the rest of your recyclables. Instead, take them to the recycling technician on duty.

If you want to recycle your alkaline (or household) batteries, you certainly can, but the process will look a little different. You may be able to find an authorized drop-off location for alkaline batteries at a retail or home improvement store, but you’ll probably have more success working directly with their manufacturer. Many offer mail-in recycling programs, so be sure to check the website of your go-to battery brand. It’s an excellent way to dispose of smaller batteries – even button cells, or watch batteries.

Mail-in programs exist for old cell phones, too.

These are usually offered by the manufacturer and/or plan provider, and they usually offer payment for participation. You could also bring your old cell phone to the local tech store, a Beaver County Recycling Center, or any other designated drop-off location (some stores even keep recycling kiosks that accept and pay for cell phones in any condition).

Then again, if your phone is in working condition, consider giving it to someone in need, through a charity or in person.

Clothing can also be donated, which is a great alternative to throwing your wear-ables in the trash.

In a landfill, clothing takes centuries to decompose, but in someone else’s closet, it will gain new life.

However, if you have an old shirt, towel, or curtain that is beyond reuse, you can recycle these textiles instead. Beaver County Recycling Centers do not accept cloth items, but other drop-off locations around our community do. Many schools, retailers, and other establishments have large, colorful, collection bins in their parking lot, so keep an eye out for one the next time you go downtown!

Some items may require a little more attention for responsible disposal, like pizza boxes.

Because organic materials cannot be recycled, pizza boxes spattered with grease and cheese cannot be recycled. But don’t give up just yet – you can turn this situation around with just a little cleaning.
This is a fairly simple process. Scrape off all remaining food from the box and cut out any grease spots (the scraps can go in a compost pile or be used for fire-starters). Afterwards, take the remnants of your pizza box to a recycling center, as you would with any other cardboard product.

Now, preparing your cookware for recycling can be less simple.

This is in part because pots, pans, and skillets are often made with multiple materials. Between the lid, base, and handle, you might have glass, metal, and even plastic in the mix. You might be able to separate these parts and recycle each accordingly. But, if you cannot, try bringing unwanted cookware to a second-hand shop, or asking a scrap yard if they’ll accept it.

Your avenues of recycling change if the cookware in question is made from a single material. Glass cookware, which has been specially treated for heat-resistance, cannot be recycled, and must be put in the trash. Pure metal cookware, on the other hand, can be recycled, and the Beaver County Recycling Center will accept anything made of cast iron, copper, aluminum, or steel. Items made of other metals should be taken to a local scrap yard.

The situation is similar for polystyrene, or styrofoam.

Beaver County Recycling Center can take the compact, white styrofoam commonly used in packaging. However, other items like egg cartons and packing peanuts will need to be taken to an alternate site. Many packaging companies allow you to return styrofoam products that came with your delivery, and some grocery stores will take back empty egg cartons, etc.

Grocery stores will often accept your plastic bags for recycling, too, as will many general retailers.

By taking your bags to one of these sites, you keep them out of our streets and oceans. Plus, you do the recycling industry a huge favor. Most recycling plants don’t have the right equipment to process plastic bags, and they could lose thousands of dollars in damage if a bag were to get tangled in the machinery.

In the end, whether you have to bring something to the store, school, packaging center or recycling center, it looks like most ‘junk’ can be recycled in some way. So, the next time you ask yourself, ‘Can I recycle this?’ remember that the answer is probably yes, if you’re willing to put in some effort. And if you have any questions, you can always call the Beaver County Waste Management Department.

Together, we’ll give our city and the world a clean future.

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