Can I Recycle This? A Guide to Recycling Paper, Plastic and Everything in Between - EcoWatch (2023)

Can I put this pizza box in with the cardboard? What about that oat milk container? Does this envelope have plastic in it?

The recycling system in the U.S. is far from perfect, and recycling is often used as a scapegoat to justify overconsumption. The oil and gas industries – producers of virgin plastic – spent millions on advertising in the 80s to advocate for recycling, knowing that it wouldn’t be a large-scale solution to our waste problem and would encourage consumers to purchase more plastic. Fast forward to 2018, when 292.4 million tons of municipal solid waste were generated in the U.S. in a single year: 4.9 pounds per person per day. Of this waste, 69 million tons were recycled and 25 million tons were composted, amounting to a meager 32.1% recyclingand composting rate.

Furthermore, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that only 10% of all plastic thrown in recycling bins over the last 40 years has actually been recycled. Some of this waste, however, comes from incorrect sorting on the part of the consumer. Because there are no universal rules for recycling – which is handled by individual counties and municipalities – the process is extremely complex and variable. While recycling is not the end-all-be-all of waste reduction, it is an important tool for keeping waste out of landfills.

It is always necessary to check your regional recycling rules, as the specifications for individual items vary widely. New York City even has a search tool to find common products and how they should be disposed of, and most counties will have this information on their website.

Here are a few pointers on how to recycle those common items – whether it be a pizza box, toothpaste tube, or hairspray can – that have you stumped.

Why Does It Matter?

Can I Recycle This? A Guide to Recycling Paper, Plastic and Everything in Between - EcoWatch (1)

The U.S. leads the world in plastic waste. With so many recyclable materials already ending up in landfills, incorrectly recycled items can impact the fate of the small percentage of waste that is recycled.

For our current recycling system to continue functioning, the operation must be profitable. After dragging your bins out to the curb, they’re taken away by the recycling truck on pick-up day, and the county or municipality pays for it to be brought to recycling plants for processing. Paper, plastic, glass, and metal are separated and consolidated into bales that are sold, and buyers use the recycled material to create new products, like post-consumer paper, pellets, etc. – all those products stamped with a “made out of recycled material” sticker. However, when a batch is too riddled with trash, it might be too dangerous or costly to sort it out, so it must be sold for a lower price. Sometimes, the whole batch is thrown away.

So, “wishful” or “aspirational” recycling – that is, wishfully throwing items in the recycling just in case they can be recycled, especially in single-stream recycling – can lead to even more waste. According to David Biderman, CEO and executive director of theSolid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), 10-15% of all waste sent to recycling centers in the U.S. isn’t actually recyclable. Correctly separating recycling can prevent some of this waste and make sure all recyclables meet their proper fate.


The Basics

The plastic bin is home to most rigid plastic containers. However, the recycling code dictates all. Every plastic recyclable will be stamped with a little triangle emblem and a number 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7, which indicates the type of plastic it’s made from, and ultimately how difficult it is to recycle (1 being the easiest, 7 the hardest). #1, for example, is the code for PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) products, like water bottles, and many other containers for oil, soft drinks, etc.

New York City, for one, accepts essentially all plastic bottles, jars, jugs, and containers, regardless of number, but not all municipalities are as inclusive; most accept at least numbers 1 and 2, but it’s important to know what codes you should divert to the trash instead.

While you can peel the paper labels off of these plastics before recycling them, it isn’t necessary, so save yourself some time and skip that step.

Milk, Juice, and Soup Cartons

These liquid cartons are an infamously confusing recyclable: are they paper? Plastic? Trash?

Unlike some mixed-material products, these cartons are luckily accepted as recyclables in 62% of American communities, reports TreeHugger.

There are two types of recyclable cartons: gable tops (usually found in the refrigerated section) and aseptic (shelf-stable containers of soup, stock, or other liquids). Chicago – which utilizes a single-stream recycling system – accepts these cartons, as does NYC in the plastic, metal, and glass bin. As always, however, don’t aspirationally recycle until you’ve checked recycling rules for your region, especially if you live in a place that doesn’t accept all types of recycling, or are serviced by a smaller recycling center; a misplaced carton could compromise the whole batch of recycling,

Bottles With Pumps

If a shampoo, soap, cleaning product, or lotion bottle is labeled as recyclable – which most are – you can put it in the recycling bin after rinsing out the remaining product. The pump, however, should be thrown away.

Clamshell Containers

The clamshell containers holding your takeout salad and sandwich are made of the highly-recyclable #1 plastic, but the process by which they are made is much different from that of #1 plastic bottles, so some centers won’t accept them. Put them in your curbside container if your county or municipality’s website specifics that clamshell containers are allowed. Otherwise, save them in a separate bin and find a collection center near you where they are.

Coffee Pods

As of 2020, Keurig-brand K-Cups are newly recyclable – if your recycling center accepts #5 plastic, that is. The company transitioned the pods from #7 plastic to #5, so new K-cups can go in the plastics bin after removing the foil.

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Nespresso capsules, on the other hand, are made from 100% aluminum and can be easily recycled with other metals. The company also offers free bags to customers, which can be filled and sent back to the company as a part of their recycling program.

Or, sidestep the pod problem and try out a French press. They’re plastic-waste free.


Glass is very easy to recycle, which means most municipalities will accept common glass containers.


No need to get all the paper or glue off. If you don’t have a single-stream system and must separate metals and glass, remove metal lids and place them in the correct bin. If the lid is larger – at least 3 inches in diameter – most centers will capture them during sorting, so there’s no need to remove it.

Glass Beverage Containers

Kombucha bottles and non-jar-sized glass beverage containers can also be recycled. The little plastic caps are too small to recycle and are hard to sort out of the glass recycling, so make sure to put those in the trash.


The Basics

Tin and aluminum cans from vegetables, fruit, soup, paint (if fully cleaned), and pet food are a safe bet for the metals bin.

Aerosol Cans

The clean, empty can itself is recyclable. Simply remove the nozzle (which goes in the trash) and recycle along with the rest of your metal.

Wire Hangers

Some major cities will accept them curbside, if any attached paper or plastic is removed. Otherwise, donate to a local thrift store or dry cleaner, or bring to a scrap metal collector. Remember, however, that most recycling centers will not accept plastic hangers.


Despite its name, tinfoil is made of aluminum, which can be recycled and used over and over again. In fact, according to the Aluminum Association, 75% of all aluminum ever produced in the U.S. is still in use today. As always, however, be sure to check your regional recycling rules.

Make sure the foil is fully clean – with no oil, food, or residue at all – then wad it up before tossing into the bin. If you use foil frequently, it’s best to wad several pieces together, since the material is quite light and can easily blow away when put outdoors.

Foil wrappers can also be recycled if they incorporate no plastic, like yogurt lids and some gum wrappers. If a wrapper stays crumbled when you squeeze it in your hand, it’s foil; if it unfolds, it’s plastic, and should be thrown away. If it’s a really small wrapper – like the foil on a Hershey’s kiss – crumple several together to make a larger clump that won’t clog up a sorting machine.

Aluminum Takeout Trays / Baking Dishes

If a facility takes aluminum foil, it’ll probably take these trays too. Likewise, they must be perfectly clean before they go in the bin.

Metal Caps

Beer and soda bottle caps are made of metal, and can go into the bin with those materials. If your recycling center requires metals to be separated by type, sort out steel and aluminum caps (steel will stick to a magnet, aluminum won’t), fill steel and aluminum cans halfway with their respective caps, then crimp the cans closed. This process keeps the small caps from wrecking machinery at the recycling center.

Alternatively, some bottle retailers collect caps and will dispose of them properly when brought back by customers.

Scrap Metal

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Larger pieces of metal shouldn’t go in the bin, but can be taken to scrap metal faculties for money. Use the iScrap app to find a site nearby.


The Basics

Paper recycling bins are for just that: paper, and corrugated cardboard (that multi-layer stuff that shows a few layers when ripped apart). Some cities require cardboard to be broken down to specific dimensions and bound with twine. Regardless, these items will generally always be accepted in curbside recycling.


First of all, if they are in decent condition, consider donating books to a local library or thrift store. As a last resort, they can be recycled as paper in some cases. Hardcovers can’t be put in the bin unless all of the pages are removed and the cover thrown away, or books of mixed materials, such as those with laminated pages.

Phonebooks and whole paperbacks can be recycled by many centers, but check with your municipality to make sure there are no book bans.


Most envelopes can go in the paper recycling. For those with plastic windows and stamps, it doesn’t hurt to peel them off, but the plastic and glue will be filtered out in the sorting process, so it can be left attached. Jiffy paper-padded envelopes can also go in with paper. However, any mailing materials with bubble wrap should be tossed, as should heavily dyed goldenrod envelopes.

Chipboard or Paperboard

This material reveals itself as grey-ish or brown when torn, and is less sturdy than corrugated cardboard. It’s typically used for cereal, snack, gift, and tissue boxes. If it tears white, however, check with your municipality to see if it’s accepted as recycling.

Cardboard Egg Cartons

Egg cartons are easily recycled if made of 100% paper or cardboard. Some can even be composted, and will break down quickly in a home pile while delivering carbon to the compost. Plastic egg cartons are more complicated; check the number on the bottom to see if it should go in with the plastic.

Glossy Cardboard

Toothbrushes, for one, are usually packaged in glossy cardboard, which can be recycled with paper. Waxy cardboard has a similar appearance, but is actually a completely different material, and is usually used for transporting groceries to stores rather than for products on the shelves. Make sure the recycling-bound cardboard is “glossy” rather than “waxy” by scraping the material with your fingernail; if it comes away with residue, the cardboard should be thrown away.

Wrapping Paper and Gift Bags

If it has foil, glitter, or other decorative elements, send it to the trash. Wrapping paper must be 100% paper with no plastic layers to be recycled. If you can rip through the wrapping paper easily, it’s probably just glossy paper, which can be recycled. Unfortunately, it’s best to play it safe and throw it away if you’re not sure. Large pieces of un-recyclable paper in a recycling batch could send the whole lot to the landfill. If you can, make sure to wrap gifts with only 100% paper so you know everything being unwrapped at the holiday is recyclable. Remove ribbons or other adornments before putting in the recycling bin.

The same rules apply for gift bags: if it’s just paper, it’s recyclable, but if you can’t rip through it cleanly or it has a plasticky feel, keep the bags to reuse them, or put them in the trash.

Greeting Cards

Anything made with photo paper – including any family pictures that come in Christmas cards – should go in the trash, as should cards with adornments or glitter. If one half of the card is plain paper, however, tear the card in half and recycle it. Better yet, if the front piece is not written on, separate it from the second half and use it as a gift tag for next year. All-paper cards can certainly be recycled.

Instant Soup Cups

If they’re completely clean, some recycling centers will accept them in the paper bin – but only those that are wax-lined, and not completely wax-coated. The rules vary widely by location, but almost no centers will accept the cups if they are Styrofoam.


Alas, not all waste can be given a second life. Some items must be trashed, but by keeping non-recyclables out of recycling bins, we can help ensure that no recycling batches are contaminated and sent to landfills.

Plastic Bags and Packaging

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Americans use hundreds of billions of plastic bags a year, and while technically recyclable, they should never be paced with other plastics in curbside recycling bins. These thin bags are considered “tanglers” in the machinery that sorts recycling, and can shut down entire recycling operations. Follow the “poke test” to determine whether a piece of plastic could be a tangler: if you can stick your finger through it with little resistance – like plastic sandwich bags, plastic wrap, bubble wrap, etc. – it should go in the trash. Unless required by your municipality, you shouldn’t even put recycling in plastic bags. At the Montgomery County recycling center in Maryland, for example, workers aren’t allowed to open plastic bags, so anything in them is considered trash, reports the Earth Day Network.

Single-use plastic bags and plastic packaging need to be taken to a collection center to be properly recycled. Use the Plastic Film Directory or How2Recycle’s search tool to find a drop-off site near you. Alternatively, check your local grocery stores; 18,000 plastic bag drop-off bins are located at major grocery store chains, reports NPR, and bringing a sack of plastic bags to recycle can easily be incorporated into your grocery-shopping routine.

To-Go Coffee Cups

Buying a coffee on the go is convenient, but, in most cases, the disposable, polyethylene-lined cup for your latte needs to go in the trash.

Some companies might tout the recyclability of their to-go cups, but not all areas will treat them as recycling. A experiment in 2018 studied this waste by placing trackers inside Starbucks cups in Denver, Colorado, and putting them in recycling bins. The cups were all ultimately traced to landfills, reports the New York Times. The plastic lid and cardboard sleeve, luckily, are usually recyclable.

Some cities do accept these cups as recycling. NYC, for one, will take paper cups with non-paper lining in the green paper bin, according to the Department of Sanitation. However, if you are unsure, it’s best to assume that the cup should go in the trash, rather than risk contaminating an entire batch.

Plastic cups for iced beverages are often a #1 plastic, and can be recycled regardless if the number stamped on the bottom is accepted at your facility.

Bottle Caps (and Other Tiny Things)

Earth Day Network reports that small items can shut down recycling machinery more than a dozen times a day. Anything smaller than a credit card – bottle caps, tiny condiment containers lighters, plastic cutlery, etc. – should be thrown away. Bottle caps can be recycled if screwed back onto their respective bottle, which is allowed by many facilities.

Toothpaste, Lotion, and Cosmetics Tubes

While lotion bottles can be recycled, the more flexible, squeezable tubes can’t. Some specific brands, however, might be recyclable: Tom’s of Maine toothpaste, for example, can be recycled as a #2 plastic. If you are unsure though, throw it out.

Paper Plates

After a party or a picnic, don’t bother collecting paper plates to be recycled; instead, direct your guests to the trash can. Like paper cups, these plates have a protective layer of plastic, and become too soiled to be recyclable.

Plastic plates can go in the plastic bin if they are fully cleaned, but at that point, it might be worth it to just use regular plates.

Pens, Markers, Mechanical Pencils

These writing utensils are made of too many materials (ink, plastic, metal, etc.) to be recycled, and the individual components are too small to be put into their respective bins alone. BICdoes, however, have a Stationery Recycling Program with Terracycle, through which individuals can send in all brands of utensils to be recycled.

Pizza Boxes

They’re cardboard, yes, but whole pizza boxes should go in the trash. Alternatively, remove any parts (like the top flap) not covered in cheese or grease and put those in with the paper recycling. Any soiled cardboard should be thrown away, as food residue can ruin a batch of recycling.


Packing peanuts, foam egg cartons, and other Styrofoam packaging is generally not accepted in curbside recycling. It also breaks apart readily and can easily contaminate an entire batch of recycling if incorrectly placed with plastics.

Local programs will often collect Styrofoam to be recycled by other means; Publix, for one, will take it, or check Earth911 for another drop-off site.

Mixed Materials

Anything made with multiple materials – for example, a paper envelope lined with bubble wrap – that can’t be separated is considered a “mixed material.” Send these to the trash.

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Black Plastics

Unless you have clear guidance from your municipality that your recycling center can accept black plastic, trash it. Black plastics are less valuable than their clear or white counterparts; it’s a less versatile material and can only be remade into other black plastic, so it goes for a cheaper price. Many facilities also sort plastic by beaming lights onto the waste, and black absorbs the light and thus can’t get properly sorted.


Mirrors are treated with a chemical that makes them un-recyclable, but be sure to throw it away safely. Wrap mirrors in bubble wrap or paper and label it before putting in the trash. If it’s cracked, crisscross the mirror with tape to hold in the splinters.

Flexible Packaging

Chip bags, granola bar wrappers, and squeeze-able packs for kids’ food like apple sauce and yogurt unfortunately have to be thrown away.

Deodorant Tubes

As a whole, they should be thrown away. The outer tube itself might be recyclable, though; check the number, and if your recycling plant takes it, remove the lid and the different components inside the tube and recycle it.


While you can recycle glass bottles, drinkware is a bit different. Glass cups and wine glasses are often treated with chemicals so they can withstand high heat, whichmakes them ineligible for curbside recycling. Make sure to check with your recycling center, however.

Light Bulbs

Rules for disposing of light bulbs vary, but they can’t always be recycled or put into residential trash bins. Halogen and LED bulbs can be thrown away at home, or LEDs can be recycled at drop-off sites, including IKEA, Lowe’s, or local recycling centers. Florescent tube lighting and CFLs (compact fluorescents) can’t be thrown in regular household trash, but Bartell Drugs, Lowe’s, and Home Depot will take CFLs to be recycled.

Paper Towels and Napkins

They often get too soiled, and the fibers in disposable napkins and towels are too short to be recycled anyway.


Ceramics generally won’t be accepted curbside, but some recycling plants will accept them if brought in. Consider donating ceramic goods to nearby thrift shops if they are still in good condition.


Besides plastic bags, all kinds of cables, cords, hoses, and string lights can cause issues at recycling plants, and should be trashed. Christmas lights are made of recyclable materials, and some recycling centers might accept them, or you can send them to a mail-in service like Holiday LEDsandChristmas Light Source to be recycled. Best Buy will also accept cables and cords to be properly disposed of.


Single-use straws are usually made of plastic #5, which is more difficult to recycle, and thus not accepted in many areas. The straws are also too small for recycling machines to accurately sort. If you find yourself with a plastic straw, toss it in the trash, or equip yourself with one of the many cute reusable straws on the market to avoid this waste.

Alternative Recycling Methods

Curbside recycling, luckily, isn’t the final option for unwanted items.

It’s time to become more mindful of what we’re putting in the trash. Before throwing something away, research how that item might be recycled, especially if it’s one you confront on a regular basis. Earth911’s search tool allows users to search by material and zip code to find drop-off sites for all kinds of items, be it empty ink cartridges, used tires, or broken smoke detectors. Textile recycling is an excellent option for old rags, worn clothing, rugs, or other fabrics (although donation or resale is a good first option for clothes). Retailers and recycling centers often collect old electronics, which usually can’t be thrown in residential trash anyway. Construction materials – which are a huge source of waste – can even be recycled. The Construction and Demolition Recycling Association has a search tool to find a recycling source for various materials by location.

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Companies and organizations are finding new ways to recycle what’s normally considered trash, like Terracycle. Individuals or businesses can purchase a box for certain types of items – like plastic packaging, face masks, and beauty products – fill it up, and send it back to be properly recycled. They also maintain public drop-offs to bring your waste; you can find one close to you on their website.

In the end, to reduce our waste, it’s best to start at the source, and remember the other two elements of our favorite mantra: Reduce and Reuse, as well as Recycle. Keep the lifecycle of the product in mind from the moment you buy it: how will you recycle this when you no longer need it? Maybe go for the cardboard carton of eggs instead of Styrofoam, the 100% recycled wrapping paper, or the clear plastic container instead of the black. Reduce what you buy, reuse what you can, and recycle the rest.


What are 3 plastics that Cannot be recycled? ›

Examples of non-recyclable plastics include bioplastics, composite plastic, plastic-coated wrapping paper and polycarbonate. Well known non-recyclable plastics include cling film and blister packaging.

Can I put plastic packaging in recycling bin? ›

You can recycle plastic pots, tubs, trays and bottles from home and take soft plastics to your local supermarket to be recycled.

Does plastic go with paper in recycling? ›

No. Any paper that's coated in a material like wax, plastic or foil (such as metallic wrapping paper or some Christmas cards) can't be recycled. This is why it's important to check the items you're placing in the recycling bin, whether it's waste from your household or your business.

Which plastic numbers Cannot be recycled? ›

While 1 and 2 plastics are easy to recycle and are accepted in most curbside bins (like beverage bottles and detergent bottles), number 3 plastics—or PVC—can't be recycled. Then there's 4-7 plastics (including grocery bags, certain food containers, and disposable coffee cups), which are really difficult to recycle.

What plastics are not being recycled? ›

Well-known non-recyclable plastics include cling film, blister packaging, plastic-coated wrapping paper, composite plastic, bioplastics, and polycarbonate. Thermoset plastics contain polymers that form irreversible chemical bonds and cannot be recycled.

Can I put shredded paper in my recycling bin? ›

The majority of recycling centres don't accept small strips or bits of paper. The large-scale recycling facilities use large screens to dry pulp paper on, where small paper pieces fall through the screens. If you put paper shreds in an office or home recycling bin, they will most likely end up in landfill.

Why can't black plastic be recycled? ›

The majority of conventional black plastic packaging is coloured using carbon black pigments which do not enable the pack to be sorted using Near Infra-Red (NIR) technology widely used in plastics recycling. As a result, black plastic packaging commonly ends up as residue and is disposed of in landfill or incinerated.

Can you put plastic bags in food recycling? ›

When you use plastic bags in your food waste caddy you're simply using them to contain the food, and keep your caddy clean. They don't get recycled. In fact, the first thing that happens when your food waste gets to the recycling plant is the plastic bags are all dredged out.

Can you recycle glossy magazines? ›

Glossy magazines are made out of paper and therefore widely recycled. If you're done with hoarding them under the bed, pop them in your recycling bin.

Should I leave the caps on bottles for recycling? ›

Do I need to remove the caps from my bottles? When recycling, we suggest you empty your bottles and put the caps back on the bottles. Note, however, your recycling center may ask that caps be off.

Can you recycle metal jam jar lids? ›

You can recycle all types of jars lids as long as they're not black.

Why do plastics need to be separated for recycling? ›

It is important to separate the plastic bottle from the lid because if left together the two types of plastics would contaminate each other. The different types of plastics must be separated before the recycling process begins because the seven different types of plastics are incompatible with each other.

Should containers be empty of liquid before putting in the recycling bins? ›

Remove all food and liquid from containers

No need to rinse containers before putting them in the recycling bin. They just need to be empty and dry. You might like to rinse anyway, as it keeps your recycling bin extra clean and odour-free.

How do you separate paper and plastic? ›

According to a third known method the mixture of paper and plastics is heated in a stream of hot air of a certain temperature, which causes the plastics components of the mixture to contract, thereby increasing the unit weight and dropoff speed of the plastics, which can then be removed from the paper fibres by a ...

How can I tell if plastic is recyclable? ›

On most plastic bottles, containers and other packaging products you will find the universal recycling symbol of the chasing arrows triangle. Within the symbol, there is a number ranging from 1-7. Although manufacturers use the recycle symbol on their products, not all plastics are recyclable.

Do plastic bags actually get recycled? ›

Due to low-quality materials and inefficiencies in the process, most plastic bags are recycled into more plastic bags.

What plastic is the hardest to recycle? ›

Polyvinyl chloride (or PVC). It contains a toxic substance called nonylphenol, which does not prevent it from being used in a wide range of products, from door frames to credit cards to various construction materials. It is one of the most difficult plastics to recycle.

Can you recycle bubble wrap? ›

Guidance. Thin plastic like bubble wrap is made from low-quality plastic which cannot be recycled at home. If you have space, the best thing you can do with bubble wrap is hold onto it and reuse it another time. Alternatively, it can go in the rubbish bin, or you can take it to a recycling collection point.

What does 05 mean on plastic? ›

Plastic number 5 or PP plastic (polypropylene) is the second-most widely produced plastic. Being light, heat resistant and sturdy, PP is applied to various packaging. Today plastic 5 is commonly used in: Yogurt containers. Liner in cereals boxes.

What does the number in the triangle on plastic containers mean? ›

The number is a resin identification code that tells you what kind of plastic that material is made of. Plastics that have #1 (PETE) or #2 (HDPE) are the most commonly recycled plastics. Plastics #3 , #4, #5, #6 and #7 are generally tougher to recycle and are not universally collected in local recycling programs.

Which kind of paper should not be used for recycling? ›

Types of paper that are not recyclable are coated and treated paper, paper with food waste, juice and cereal boxes, paper cups, paper towels, and paper or magazine laminated with plastic.

How do you pack shredded paper for recycling? ›

Put your shredded paper in a see-through or transparent plastic bag and tie the handles closed.

Can you put used tissues in paper recycling? ›

Can tissues be recycled? Although tissues are made of paper they are made of very short fibres which are not high enough quality to be recycled and therefore should be placed in the waste bin.

Can you recycle mushroom containers? ›

The punnets are made from fully recyclable material and allows for moisture to be absorbed, whilst still maintaining integrity.

Are black coat hangers recyclable? ›

Plastic 'film' and plastic bags also cause a problem because they tend to wrap around the machinery and cause jams or blockages. This is why we cannot collect these types of plastic for recycling. Other non-packaging plastic such as toys, coat hangers, plant pots, garden furniture, plastic pipes, etc.

Can I put my recycling in a black bag? ›

No. Please do not put your recycling in plastic bags before putting them in your recycling bin. The sorting machinery is unable to tear open plastic bags. Please place your recycling in your bin: clean, dry and loose (not in bags or boxes).

Can coffee grounds go in food waste? ›

These food waste items can be added to your home composting bin: Fruit and vegetable peelings, seeds and cores, tea bags, coffee grounds and filter papers, paper towels (if they have not touched meat) and egg shells. You cannot compost: cooked food, fish, meat or dairy products.

Can nut shells go in food recycling? ›

Best Option. - Yes please, you can put this item in your green outside food waste bin for collection every week.

Can coffee filters go in food waste? ›

Guidance. If your local council provides a food waste collection service (opens in a new window) where you live, you can dispose of food waste in your food bin, including paper coffee filters.

Can receipts be recycled? ›

Because receipts have that chemical coating, they're not 100% paper and they cannot be recycled as such. BPA is easily transferrable, so when the thermal paper comes in contact with regular paper, it contaminates the natural paper.

Can photos go in paper recycling? ›

Can photographs be recycled? Photographs and negatives cannot be recycled and should be placed in the waste bin.

Should I throw out old magazines? ›

Not all old magazines can go in the recycling bin, even if they are printed on clay-coated paper. Stained magazines should go to the landfill instead of the recycling center. If you've used your old magazines to protect your floor while painting or to line the bottom of the cat litter, toss it in the garbage.

Are Coke bottle caps recyclable? ›

Misinformation continues to spread about the recyclability of beverage caps. The closures we use on bottles are 100 percent recyclable from a technical standpoint and highly recycled. They are made from high-density materials selected for their compatibility with most recycling systems.

Are milk bottle tops recyclable? ›

Should you put the lids on jars and bottles when you put them in the recycling? Well when it comes to plastic bottles, the answer is yes.

Can you recycle plastic water bottles? ›

Empty and rinse bottles. Left over foods or liquids can contaminate other recyclables and if bottles contain liquid they may not be recycled as deemed too heavy by the automated sorting process. Liquid can also damage the machinery. Leave on labels - these will be removed in the process.

Are spaghetti jar lids recyclable? ›

Metal caps from glass jars.

The top can be recycled as long as it's placed in the recycling bin separate from the jar. Examples: tops from pasta sauce jars, jam jars, Ball canning jars (rings and discs).

Can you put jam jars in the recycling bin? ›

Jam jars can be recycled using your local council's kerbside recycling bin, bag or box and at your local Household Waste Recycling Centre. It's useful if they are empty and rinsed and please leave lids on. GLASS FACTS: Lots of glass items can be recycled including glass bottles and jars.

Can you recycle coffee jar lids? ›

Plastic lids from containers such as coffee jars can be recycled in your blue bin or sack. Ideally, place plastic lids back onto the bottles or jars from which they came prior to recycling in your blue bin or sack. This is not essential but it does help the sorting process.

Should you crush bottles before recycling? ›

There's no need to wash or crush your recyclables. Just separate your aluminum, glass, and plastic containers in different bags or bins, and head for the recycling center. And again, if you need more info, be sure to read our Frequently Asked Questions.

Are small yogurt containers recyclable? ›

Your yogurt cups are plastic materials. But they are the plastic materials categorized as number 5 or #5. This makes them fit for recycling.

Why is number 6 plastic not recyclable? ›

The #6 identifies the resin of the plastic which makes polystyrene, but the arrows around the number do not mean that it is recyclable. This type of plastic is either hard of soft (foam, also known as Styrofoam). Both should go in the landfill. Foam polystyrene, like that found in packaging, is made of mostly air.

How do you clean lotion bottles for recycling? ›

1: Remove the pump and discard (pumps aren't recyclable). 2: Give your empty bottle a quick rinse. 3: Toss in your recycling bin!

Should recycling items be clean dry and loose? ›

Plastic items placed in your recycling bin need to be clean, dry and loose. This means there should be no food or liquids left on/in your plastic items, and you should place all the items loosely in the bin and not in plastic bags or stuffed into other materials such as boxes.

Which color bin should water bottles be discarded in? ›

Yellow Bin

So, what are the things you can put there? You can put glass bottles, cardboard, newspaper, plastic, aluminum cans, juice and milk cartons, office papers, coffee cups with lids (Disposable ones).

What is the plastic around paper called? ›

Laminating, or plastic lamination is a common method of protecting paper documents, and of making them waterproof and resistant to handling damage.

Which of the following is not recyclable? ›

Non–recyclable paper – wrapping paper that is laminated or contains foreign materials such as foil-coatings or glitter, photographic film, microwave containers, hardcover books, frozen food boxes, thermal fax paper, carbon paper, blueprints, aluminum foil boxes and binders.

Can all 7 types of plastic be recycled? ›

Bottom-line, there are seven types of plastics. Generally, most recyclers accept plastics #1 and #2. Plastics #3 to #6 are more difficult to recycle and some recycling centers do not process them. Plastic #7 is even more difficult to recycle and almost always excluded.

Why are plastics 3 and 7 not recyclable? ›

Plastics Recycling. Most hard plastics #3 - #7 cannot be recycled due to lack of a market. Any CRV container, or larger containers (one gallon or greater in size), can still be placed in your recycling container at your home. You can also recycle them at the locations below.

What are the 7 types of recycled plastic? ›

The 7 types of recyclable plastics fall under the categories of PET, HDPE, PP, LDPE, PVC, PS, and Other. In addition to reducing plastic consumption and increasing the use of recycled plastic instead of virgin plastic, recycling responsibly is a key component in doing something about plastic pollution.

How can you tell if plastic is recyclable? ›

On most plastic bottles, containers and other packaging products you will find the universal recycling symbol of the chasing arrows triangle. Within the symbol, there is a number ranging from 1-7. Although manufacturers use the recycle symbol on their products, not all plastics are recyclable.

Why is number 5 plastic not recyclable? ›

That number surrounded by chasing arrows is a resin identification code and tells users what kind of plastic they're holding. The number 5 with the recycling symbol indicates polypropylene, often just shortened to PP. This plastic type is particularly hard and heat resistant.

What wastes the most plastic? ›

Cigarette butts — whose filters contain tiny plastic fibers — are the most common type of plastic waste found in the environment. Food wrappers, plastic bottles, plastic bottle caps, plastic grocery bags, plastic straws, and stirrers are the next most common items.

Why plastic is not being recycled? ›

Waste management experts say the problem with plastic is that it is expensive to collect and sort. There are now thousands of different types of plastic, and none of them can be melted down together. Plastic also degrades after one or two uses. Greenpeace found the more plastic is reused the more toxic it becomes.

Can glass be recycled? ›

The long-lasting nature of glass also means that glass can be recycled forever. It never wears out as a raw material, so old bottles and jars can be remanufactured into new glass containers over and over and over again. Recycling glass saves other resources in addition to landfill space.

Which plastics to avoid? ›

1. Avoid plastics with recycling codes 3 (PVC), 6 (polystyrene), and 7 (other). Plastics are not all the same, and some are more toxic than others. Look at the recycling code on the bottom of plastic products and containers to find the plastic type, and avoid plastics with recycling code 3 as they may leach phthalates.

What is the easiest plastic to recycle? ›

HDPE is accepted at most recycling centers in the world, as it is one of the easiest plastic polymers to recycle. Recycling companies will usually collect HDPE products and send them to large facilities to be processed.

Which number plastic bottles are safe to reuse? ›

Plastic number 2 can be reused without any harm. The durability and reliability of HDPE 2 make it efficient to use in the manufacture of various items like: Sturdy bottles for cosmetics and household cleaner.


1. 10 ADVANCED ZERO WASTE TIPS // important & non-basic swaps
(Gittemary Johansen)
2. GDF21 - The Circular Design Project: Plastics
(London Design Festival)
3. How hard is it to live plastic free? We tried it to find out
(WKYC Channel 3)
(Design Insider)
5. Microplastics inside humans and plants
6. Bottled Water and BioPiracy - Conservation Conversation Episode 4
(Erik E. Crown / Eco Films)


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