This is a paid piece from Millennium Recycling.

Simplified: It may come as a fright to learn, but not everyone follows the rules when it comes to proper recycling. In the spirit of spooky season, Millennium Recycling compiled a list of the scariest things they've found that do not belong in recycling bins.

Why it matters

  • When people recycle items that aren't meant to be recycled, it can injure team members and cause extensive damage at Millennium, the small, local company that sorts your recyclables after they leave your house.
  • It also means items may end up in the landfill that could have had another life elsewhere, or that should've been disposed of in a more appropriate manner.
"It can be scary to see what people think belongs in their recycling bin," Communications Director Marissa Begley said. "We've seen everything from full diapers to a full urn."

Top 10 scariest things people tried to recycle

  1. Poisons (hazardous chemicals and medications)
  2. Weapons (Axes, knives, handguns)
  3. A fully intact wedding dress in a box (don't worry, this one was donated to a place that makes "angel gowns" for babies who have passed away)
  4. A prosthetic arm
  5. Bags full of pet poo
  6. Used home-health items (dirty medical tubing and bedding)
  7. Full diapers (adult and baby - they average 1 per minute that get pulled out)
  8. Dead animals (especially during hunting season, but found year-round)
  9. Dirty needles and sharps
  10. A full urn

Along with these unpredictable “scary” items, Millennium faces contamination problems on a daily basis of people recycling wrong.

  • You can find a full list of the most common items they find that do not belong on their “Dirty Dozen” list here.
“It’s important to learn how to recycle right to support the local economy, extend the life of the Sioux Falls landfill, and protect our environment,” says Begley, “When people recycle items that don’t belong, it causes problems along the entire recycling journey.”

Why is improper recycling such a problem?

Once recyclables arrive at Millennium, automated equipment sorts the material into commodities that get baled and sent to specialized recycling facilities who use them to make new products.

  • If items come in that don’t belong, they must be hand-picked out by trained staff.
  • Things like hazardous waste, chemicals, or sharp scrap metal and wood can easily injure employees during this process.
  • If anything slips through, they can damage the sorting equipment and lower the value and marketability of the commodities they end up being sorted with.

You can help make the season not so scary for Millennium’s team by following the simple "Yes list" here, and if you still have questions, ask them on their Facebook page or website.