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Are You A Wishcycler? Learn The Do’s & Don'ts Of Wishcycling

Be A Responsible Cycler, Instead Of A Wishcycler!


Wishful recycling, also known as wishcycling, is the act of throwing something in the recycling bin and hoping it is recyclable. You are putting non-recyclable items in the recycling bin without being certain that they will be recycled. It undoubtedly has an impact on the recycling process, resulting in contamination, machine damage, material deterioration, and a decrease in material value.

Do you wishcycle? Have you ever tried to recycle a "disposable" coffee cup, a greasy pizza box, or your printer’s ink cartridge? Have you anticipated them embodying the next new product on the market? Then you are unknowingly participating in the wishcycling process! As you read on, you'll realise you're not the only one crossing their fingers!

Wishcycling Vs Upcycling

People believe that most items can be recycled, and their recyclables are sorted. However, this is not always the case. The process of upcycling can help to accelerate the circular economy by recycling appropriate materials. There are methods for producing high-value products, such as carbon nanotubes, which are used to design lightweight aerospace parts. Even clean liquid fuel can be made from recycled plastic. This method can also be used to recycle agricultural and organic waste, therefore managing waste materials.

Why Is Wishcycling Bad For The Environment?

Wishcycling has the potential to contaminate other recyclable items, rendering them unusable by recycling plants. The following are the main two negative effects of wishcycling:

1. It generates and contributes to the production of more waste.
2. It has caused the recycling industry significant damage.

How Can YOU Avoid Wishcycling?

When you want to avoid wishcycling, you may believe it is difficult, but it is not. Here are five ways to avoid wishcycling and continue to contribute to keeping the planet clean and green, ultimately leading to zero waste.

1. Learn the local recycling rules

When it comes to recycling, there are different rules and exceptions in each location. Find out what the rules are in your town or city, and talk to your local waste authority. This will undoubtedly keep you up to date and informed about what you can recycle at your local recycling facility.

2. Know what can be recycled and what cant be recycled

Once you've learned about your town's recycling rules, you'll need to understand the fundamentals of what can and cannot be recycled. The table below will assist you in this regard.

3. Make sure the items are clean and dry at the time of recycling

Most items are not recycled due to contamination. Make sure to thoroughly rinse the items before recycling them. If an item is greasy, oily, or contaminated with food, it will not be recycled. Before placing the items in the recycling bin, keep them dry. Soggy, wet, and damp paper cannot be recycled, so simply throw it away!

4. If you’re unable to figure out whether the item can be recycled, just throw it

Sometimes, you want to achieve your maximum limit when it comes to recycling! Please remember that there will be items you just don't know what to do with. At that time, without thinking too much, just throw the items into the dump. You don't want to end up contributing to wishcycling after all. 

5. Reduce the amount of waste which you are creating in the first place

Reducing consumption by choosing reusable items instead of single-use products will definitely help. Avoid using disposable plastic bags, cutlery plates, and straws. Rather, buy those items which you can reuse - coffee cups, shopping bags, food containers, and washable coffee filters. Choose to write things down digitally rather than on paper.

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Do’s & Don'ts Of Wishcycling

We recommend the following Do's and Don'ts to avoid wishcycling. Here are some examples of what can and cannot be recycled, as well as what you should check before recycling!




Clean Cardboard Products 

Anything Which Contains Food In It

Rinsed & Dried Glass Bottles & Containers

Mixed Paper Products

Broken Glass

Plastic Bags

Food Boxes (Clean)

Broken Light Bulbs

Juice Boxes

Aluminium Cans

Aerosol Cans

Plastic Bottles

Paper & Foam Coffee Cups


Plastic Shopping Bags


Greasy Pizza Boxes


Plastic Utensils & Straws

Conditioner & Shampoo Bottles

Coffee Pods (K-Cups)

Plastics With Chasing Arrows

Containers With Drink Residue

Styrofoam, Film & Plastic Pieces Smaller Than A Credit Card


How Can YOU End Wishcycling?

Here are a few items that are frequently wishcycled and should never be found in your recycling bin. Please let us know if there is anything other item that we have missed!

1. Plastic wrap
2. Plastic grocery bags
3. Plastic bubble wrap mailers
4. Pizza boxes
5. Wax-coated boxes from frozen foods
6. Pots and pans
7. Ink cartridges
8. Broken eyeglasses
9. Tupperware
10. Styrofoam
11. Small plastic lids


This is the most frequently asked question among all of us: What is the best way to avoid wishcycling? The solution actually lies in reducing the amount of waste that we generate in the first place. The most important factor here is source production, which results in waste. So we should definitely reconsider our purchasing habits and reduce our reliance on single-use convenience products. 

Stop Wishcycling, Start Smarter Recycling! 

- Harshita Shah

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