While lots of things in the bathroom cannot be recycled, lots of things there can. Most of the things that could be recycled there usually are not, and my reading suggests that the reason is that most people don’t consider the bathroom when they think about recycling. 

Tubes, such as toothpaste tubes, whether metal or plastic, are generally not recyclable, and are considered trash. Toothbrushes contain several types of plastics, and also cannot be recycled. 

The plastic wrap that surrounds multi-roll packages of bathroom tissue is Type 4 plastic and can be returned to the grocery store along with their other plastic bags. 

Cheap, plastic razors contain both plastic and metal. They cannot be recycled, While inexpensive to buy, these are a major source of bathroom trash. We encourage the use of alternatives that result in less trash (reusable razors or electric shavers). 

Dental floss containers can go both ways. Some have no recycling code on them, and cannot be recycled. Others do have the code, and can go into the bins. Note, though, that the ones I use have outer containers that can be recycled, but the inner core, around which the dental tape is wrapped, needs to be trashed along with the small metal clip attached to it. 

Most bottles for shampoo, hand soap, conditioner, etc., are either Type 2 plastic, or possibly glass (not safe in the bathroom, but sometimes used anyway). These can be handled the same as any other products of these types. Rinse them as well as you reasonably can, then put them in the bins. Labels need not be removed. Glass of any sort is still not recycled in Brunswick, but we will hopefully get it started again soon. 

Any paper container is fine to recycle. Most products come in paper boxes of some sort, and, of course, toilet paper tubes are just plain paper as well. 

Containers for medications are a special case. The tubes cannot be recycled, especially when they contain medications, nor can any container that still has outdated or unused meds inside. The empty plastic bottles in which prescription pills are packed are Type 5 plastic, which, if the bottle is empty, can be recycled. If the bottle is not empty, both it and its contents can be returned to the Police Department either on Drug Take-Back Day, or via the bin in the Police Department lobby maintained for that purpose.

Medication tubes along with whatever left over or outdated prescription creams might be left in them, can also be returned to the collection bin or at Take-Back Day. In either case, these items are gathered by the Sheriff’s office and ultimately transported to a location in Massachusetts where they are incinerated to safely destroy the contents, and the various containers are fully destroyed along with the medications.  

The Recycle Bin is a weekly column on what to recycle, what not to recycle, and why, in Brunswick. The public is encouraged to submit questions by email to [email protected]. Harry Hopcroft is a member of the Brunswick Recycling and Sustainability Committee.

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