You think it ought to be recycled. You want to do the right thing. So you toss it in the recycling bin.There’s now a fancy term for that: aspirational recycler.

But what if you’re wrong? The more unrecyclable stuff in a load of recyclables, the better the chance that the whole thing goes to the landfill, wasting everybody’s time and effort.In the recycling business, that’s called contamination. It’s become an even bigger issue since China began cracking down on the types of recyclables and the degree of contamination it will accept for processing.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans recycle 66 million tons of trash a year. About a third of that is exported, and most of that had been going to China until that country changed its rules last year. Now waste collectors are scrambling to find new markets to keep the recycling momentum going.

The New York Times has helpfully published a list of six things you’re probably recycling wrong:

Pizza Boxes. If the grease has soaked into the cardboard, recyclers don’t want it. But if the bottom of the box looks OK, tear it off and put that part in the bin.

Disposable coffee cups. Yes, it’s paper, but the fine coating of polyethylene that helps it hold liquid probably means the recycler will toss it in the trash if you don’t

Dirty containers. Even if the plastic number is all right, food waste, oily residue and those last drops of milk cause problems. Rinse everything out.

Learn about the other items by reading the full article.

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