Paper Towels Compost Paper towels from hand-washing can get composted, so put them into a green composting bin. This bin should be located near a sink. Do not flush them as they can clog sewer lines. Considering food waste is prohibited in lab spaces, no food waste should go into lab compost bins. If you have any question about contamination, contact your Generator Assistant in the EHS Waste Management Group. Contaminated Paper Towels Are Hazardous Waste Paper towels with biohazardous, chemical, hazardous, or radioactive contamination must be handled as regulated waste. Learn how to dispose of contaminated paper towels. Do Not Recycle Unused paper towels cannot be recycled because the fibers are too short to be made into new paper. Used paper towels also cannot be recycled because they are usually soiled in food or grease, which contaminates the recycling process. Recycle Cardboard Tubes You can recycle the tubes that come inside paper towel rolls as paper.