8 hard-to-recycle items and what to do with them in the Raleigh or Durham areas

These seven items can’t be recycled through Raleigh’s curbside program, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be recycled at all.

Learn how you can recycle plastic bags, styrofoam materials, pizza boxes and more.

1. Can I recycle plastic bags?

Yes, but not in your curbside bin.

Many grocery stores and hardware stores accept plastic bags. These materials cannot be processed by Raleigh’s recycling plant, plus they jam up the machinery.

Wake County Solid Waste’s Bianca Howard likes referencing BagAndFilmRecycling.org to find drop-off sites for plastic grocery bags and other thin plastics, like cling wrap.

Here, we can search for Raleigh, Durham or any other Triangle town and find nearby drop-off sites on the website’s handy map.

All Lowe’s Home Improvement locations include a Recycling Center, which accepts plastic bags, as well as cellphones, rechargeable batteries and compact fluorescent light bulbs.

Note: Paper grocery bags are recyclable and can go inside your recycling bins.

There are a few different ways to recycle batteries in Raleigh, depending on the type of battery it is.
There are a few different ways to recycle batteries in Raleigh, depending on the type of battery it is.

2. Can I recycle batteries?

There are a few different ways to recycle batteries in Raleigh, depending on the type of battery it is.

Single-use batteries: Common single-use batteries, such as alkaline or zinc carbon batteries, are used to power remote controls, flashlights and other household items. The U.S. Environment Protection Agency recommends seeking out a private reclamation company that recycles these batteries. If that’s not an option, the EPA says these types of batteries can often safely be put in household trash, but advises checking with local solid waste authorities first.

So we did.

Maine Johnson, communications analyst for the City of Raleigh’s Solid Waste Services Department, said most batteries actually need to be disposed of as hazardous waste.

There are three hazardous waste facilities in Wake County. They’re in Raleigh, Apex and Wendell. The Raleigh facility is at 9037 Deponie Dr. and is open every day except Sunday.

For more information on disposing batteries and other hazardous waste, visit wake.gov and search “Household Hazardous Waste Facilities.”

Rechargeable batteries: These batteries can also be recycled at hazardous waste facilities, as well as local hardware stores.

Visit The Home Depot stores in the Raleigh area, as well as Lowe’s Home Improvement’s recycling centers. See above (under plastic bags) for details.

Rechargeable batteries, or NiCad batteries, can be found in many cordless electric products, such as video cameras.

Lithium-ion batteries: These can be brought to a Household Hazardous Waste Facility in Wake County, or you can arrange a special garbage collection.

“We ask residents to place tape over the terminals of lithium batteries to reduce the risk of fire,” said Bianca Howard, outreach and marketing supervisor for Wake County’s Environmental Services and Solid Waste.

3. How can I recycle electronics?

Wake’s Multi-Material Recycling Facilities offer electronic recycling, including white goods (such as refrigerators and laundry machines), scrap metal, televisions and computers. The Raleigh location is at 9029 Deponie Dr., which is also one of Wake’s Convenience Centers.

Multi-Material Recycling Facilities accept the following items:

  • Electronics, including televisions, cellphones, computers, monitors, game consoles, stereos, microwaves and all corded devices.

  • Large appliances, including air conditioning and heating units, refrigerators, freezers, washers, dryers and water heaters.

You can also drop off electronic materials with Anything With A Plug Recycling, at 10131 Division Dr. in Raleigh. The office is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, plus noon to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.

The organization operates free mobile drop-off sites each Saturday from noon to 2 p.m., visiting a new town in the Triangle each weekend, said founder and owner Dennis R. Carter. Visit AnythingWithAPlugRecycling.com or call 919-610-3465 to find out when a drop-off site is coming near you.

“Almost all of my stuff, I’d say 95%, gets recycled. The rest of it, I’ll sell to repair shops, private collectors and artists,” he said.

Anything With A Plug Recycling also offers flat-rate pick ups, which are $50 for residents, Carter said.

4. Can I recycle pizza boxes?

Pizza boxes that have any trace of grease residue cannot be placed in curbside recycling, said Maine Johnson, a spokesperson for Raleigh’s Solid Waste Services Department.

While pizza boxes, even with a bit of grease, can’t be recycled, they can be composted at some of Wake County’s Convenience Centers. Three convenience centers have food waste drop-off slots, and accept pizza boxes, single-use napkins and more.

There are two in Raleigh: Site #4 (located at 3600 Yates Mill Pond Rd.) and Site #7 (located at 9024 Deponie Dr.), accept pizza boxes, single-use napkins and more.

For more information on food waste disposal, visit wake.gov and search “Food Scraps Composting.”

5. Should I recycle light bulbs?

CFL (compact fluorescent) light bulbs can be recycled at Lowe’s recycling centers and at The Home Depot locations.

Fluorescent light bulbs can also be disposed of as hazardous waste. See above (under batteries) to learn about Wake County’s hazardous waste facilities. There’s one in Raleigh.

6. Can I recycle cling wrap?

BagAndFilmRecycling.org locations also accept cling wrap, the website says. Search for Raleigh, Durham or any other Triangle town to find nearby drop-off sites.

7: Does any place recycle styrofoam?

Try your shipping store. Many The UPS Store locations accept foam packing peanuts, as long as they’re clean, for reuse. Call your local store to see if you can drop off your materials there.

For large quantities of styrofoam, check with Shimar Recycling in Durham, the city of Durham recommends.

Shimar Recycling is a business that collects styrofoam and other recycling materials for a fee. The company can be contacted at shimar.com.

8. Can bubble wrap be recycled?

Many The UPS Store locations also accept clean bubble cushioning products for reuse. Call your nearby locations to see if they accept this item.

BagAndFilmRecycling.org locations also accept bubble wrap and air pillows, the website says. Search for Raleigh, Durham and other Triangle towns to find nearby drop-off sites.