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TheStreet Open House

Should I Recycle This? How to Trash 9 Items

Rechargeable batteries (and the gadgets they come in)
Verdict: Find a taker.
Don't toss your old phone or its rechargeable battery in the trash or the recycling bin, as it can contain toxic metals. Instead, find a retailer to take it off your hands. Berry notes that retailers such as Best Buy (BBY) and RadioShack (RSH) have programs that let you turn in your old cellphone or battery, regardless of where you got it. And there are also organizations such as Cell Phones for Soldiers that let you donate your still-working phone to someone who needs it more.

Of course, if your old phone or MP3 player still works, you have another option: Sell it to someone. The gadget gets reused, no toxins end up in the environment and you pocket a little bit of cash.

Metal
Verdict: Put it in the recycling bin.
Themelis says that one of the biggest factors in determining whether something is recyclable is what sort of market there is for the material. Since different materials have different economic value, there won't always be a market in your area for all recyclable materials.

But as a general rule, there's almost always a market for your metal, with Themelis noting that recycled metal and aluminum products fetch a high price and are thus accepted across the board. As such, you should always feel free to toss your cans in the recycling bin.

And don't worry about food residue or paper labels -- Berry says that those are easily removed during the recycling process.

Pill bottles
Verdict: Put them in the recycling bin.
"Medicine containers or pill bottles are commonly overlooked as recyclable," explains a representative for Recyclebank, a company that lets you earn points for recycling. "The easiest and most common plastics to recycle, they can become fiberfill for winter coats, sleeping bags and life jackets. It can also be used to make beanbags, rope, car bumpers, tennis ball felt, combs, cassette tapes, sails for boats, furniture and, of course, other plastic bottles."

That's a lot of stuff. Toss your pill bottles in the bin, but consider taking the label off first if it's a prescription -- if someone finds it, you don't want them knowing what medicine you're taking.

Snack wrappers
Verdict: Throw them in the garbage.
Not only is that bag from your chips probably covered in grease, it's also not made of recyclable material, as a general rule.

"The coating on candy bar wrappers, pretzel bags, frozen food boxes and juice boxes -- to name a few -- cannot be recycled due to the blend of materials and tendency for these wrappers to be made out of noncellulosic materials (not plant-based), which makes recycling difficult," Recyclebank notes.

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