What is and isn't recyclable when it comes to pandemic staples

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The disposable face masks and gloves we use are creating new challenges when it comes to keeping our neighborhoods clean.

In some cases, they end up as litter. We've definitely all seen masks on the ground in grocery store parking lots.

Although they always need to be disposed of properly and not littered, it's important to remember not everything we use can be recycled.

There are two different things to remember. The first is to recycle correctly, and the second is to make sure your trash gets into a trash can and stays there.

"The PPE litter that we have right now is 100% preventable," Amy Reed with Keep Houston Beautiful said.

So what did Reed say about those single use face masks?

"They can't be recycled at all," Reed said. "They need to be thrown in a proper receptacle, such as a trash can out in public, or take it home and throw it away there."

Another PPE litter culprit is plastic gloves, which also cannot be recycled and must be properly thrown away.

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"Those provide choking hazards for our wildlife in the community," Reed warned. "That's another one to put on the list. It's so harmful to see people do."

Reed also has advice for properly disposing hand soap and sanitizer in plastic bottles.

"Flip the bottle upside down and look for the triangle. If it has a number two on it, which it should, you just throw the top away, rinse the bottle out, and put it in your [recycling] bag," Reed said.

The actual bottles themselves are recyclable, but often the screw-on lids and spray tips are not.

Lastly, Reed says disinfectant wipes are not recyclable, but the container is.

"Those lids aren't recyclable, but the containers are," Reed said.

Plastics are numbered one through seven on the bottom. The City of Houston recycles all plastic types except number six, so make sure you're checking your plastics.

Lastly, make sure your plastics are rinsed out and dry before recycling.

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