We are more aware of the need to recycle than ever before but there is still confusion over what items can be recycled.
Two thousand people were questioned on their recycling knowledge in a survey commissioned by the British Science Association.
None of the people surveyed got full marks, with many making mistakes that could result in entire bags of recycling being rejected and sent to landfill.
Two thirds of those surveyed thought kitchen foil and foil trays could not be recycled when - on the contrary: as long as they are clean, they can be.
Just over half of people did not know that empty deodorant aerosols and hairspray cans are fit for recycling, along with the plastic cap.
Also, more than half did not realise metal can lids, empty surface cleaner bottles and empty bleach bottles could also be recycled.
Meanwhile, almost half of those surveyed incorrectly thought used kitchen roll could go in the recycling bin and 24% made the same mistake with coffee cups, which cannot be recycled because of their plastic lining.
Other mistakes included not emptying and rinsing shampoo and conditioner bottles or food containers and not taking the plastic out of tissue boxes.
The Recycling Association said: "If in doubt, throw it out as that is better than putting the wrong items in the recycling bin."
Ivvet Modinou, head of engagement at the British Science Association, said: "Manufacturers could provide clearer information on packaging and local councils should be actively working to improve guidance for local residents.
"In addition, small, individual actions can really make a difference - such as asking your local cafe not to stock plastic straws, or checking the back of packaging for recycling information."
British households generate 22 million tonnes of waste a year, with 44% of this being recycled, according to 2016 figures from DEFRA.