There are some items that are pretty obviously illegal to throw away in New York. You probably know better than to throw away a car battery. You’re not dumping motor oil into the kitchen trash. Odds are good you aren’t throwing old tires in with last week’s leftovers in the bin. But there are some items that are illegal to throw away that you wouldn’t expect.

Upstate cities and counties have special household hazardous waste and electronics days, where residents can drop off their unwanted, unsafe garbage. Here are some commonly thrown away items that are currently banned from New York landfills.

Cell Phone Charging Cables

Apple iPhone Lightning Charge Cord

Will Apple ever come up with an indestructible charge cord? Probably not as long as they keep making money off replacements. Once it wears out, it can’t just go in the trash in Upstate – it has to be properly recycled.

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Hand Sanitizer

A travel-size bottle of hand sanitizer

Is your 2020 stockpile taking up space? You can't just throw away the little bottle in your car. Hand sanitizer has to be recycled like any other hazardous liquid waste. The older hand sanitizer gets, the more likely it is to contain dangerous methanol.

Stones and Stumps

An uprooted tree stump

While they can’t go in regular trash, leaves, branches, and Christmas trees are legal yard-waste in New York. These will all be mulched and turned into compost. For this reason, stones and stumps cannot be thrown out, even as yard-waste – they could damage composting equipment.

Office Paper

Stacks of office paper

The Solid Waste Management Act of 1988 required all New York municipalities institute recycling laws and programs. This includes making scrap office paper recycle only. Did you know that 17 trees are saved for every ton of office paper recycled?


A stack of old newspapers

Same rules for office paper in New York. Put it in the recycling or you’re breaking the law.

CRT Televisions

A pile of old CRT TVs

It’s been sitting in your guest bedroom since Black Friday 1998, unwatched and gathering dust, but you can’t just throw it out. Some retailers will recycle your old TVs for a fee, but most counties have an electronics recycling station that’s free for residents.

Why Are People Stacking Their Trash Cans in New York

The reason people are stacking cans in several New York neighborhoods to create Happy Trash.

Gallery Credit: Credit - Polly McAdams

LOOK: Baby names that are illegal around the world

Stacker scoured hundreds of baby name databases and news releases to curate a list of baby names that are illegal somewhere in the world, along with explanations for why they’re banned.

Gallery Credit: Annalise Mantz