Everything is Not Recyclable

Everything is Not Recyclable

As we begin 2021 we thought what better way to start out the first blog of the year than to help those who have committed to recycling this year to understand what is and is not recyclable.  Within waste management there are numerous types of waste management and recycling is just one of them.  Packaging in general is recyclable only if it can be collected, sorted, processed, and reused to make another product.  If any part of that process is missed or unable to occur the item is not recyclable.

Recycle tote and trash on curb

When looking at packaging to determine what to separate it is important to understand what generally can be recycled from what can't as well as understanding where and when it depends.


We will start with items that are generally recyclable.  This means they are commonly accepted as part of municipal recycling programs, these are the waste management programs where most consumer waste ends up.  In general the following items can be recycled most of the time:

  • Rigid Plastics/Bottles
  • Cereal Boxes
  • Snack Boxes
  • Mail, Magazines, Books
  • Newspaper, Cardboard
  • Aluminum, Steel, Tin 
  • Cans
  • Glass Jars
  • Wine Bottles, Beer Bottles
  • Liquor Bottles

Kid Recycling 

Next we will cover items that are not recyclable:

  • Plastic Stretch Wrap
  • Polystyrene Foam (egg cartons, cups, plates, takeout containers)
  • Plastic Shower Curtains, and Plastic Shower Liners
  • Soiled Food Containers
  • Soiled Paper Products such as plates, napkins, cups
  • Waxed Paper & Cartons such as Orange Juice Cartons
  • Broken Glass
  • Fast Food Containers
  • Plastic Utensils (straws, forks, knives, spoons)
  • Water bottle lids (this is a different plastic than the bottle itself)
  • Ceramic & Oven Safe Dishes which have a high heat melting point

food waste can not recycle

Now that we have covered what is generally recyclable and what is not we will cover what falls into the grey area which means it is possible but it depends on the condition.

  • Pizza Boxes - In general yes unless the box is soaked or saturated with oil/grease, or has cheese stuck to the lid.
  • Packaging Peanuts - these can come in biodegradable or non-biodegradable options.  Unless identified as biodegradable one should assume that they are not.
  • Old TVs and Electronics - These items can be recycled but should not be recycled by municipal waste centers.  These are better fit for special processors capable of handling electronic waste.
  • Cleaning Products - Its important to understand how the products are instructed to be disposed of as that will help identify if it is aqueous and fit for flushing, can be handled by municipal waste, or must be disposed of carefully due to hazardous substances contained within.
Pizza Boxes.  Recycled vs not


We hope that we have helped you understand what is and is not recyclable so that you can separate your waste streams accordingly. A good rule of thumb is when in doubt check the package itself to see if there is a recycling code or statement that clarifies clearly if the item is recyclable.

Family that recycles

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