What Can Be Recycled?

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What Can Be Recycled?

Posted by Alyssa on March 22, 2017

recycling bin

If you’re like me, you may occasionally debate over what can actually be recycled in your recycling bin at home. While each city may vary on specifics, here are some general guidelines for what to put in your blue recycling bin and what to avoid. 

recycle symbol

Yes, put these in your blue bin -

Paper and Cardboard

  • Food is the biggest contaminant of paper recycling. If your paper product has food residue on it, like a used napkin or paper towel, it may not be recyclable.  
  • You can definitely recycle your pizza boxes, but if grease and oil have saturated the bottom of the box you may only be able to recycle the lid.
  • Shredded paper is harder to reuse than full sheets of paper.


  • Most plastic containers can be recycled - think bottles, jugs, or jars.
  • Be sure there is no food left in your plastic containers - a quick rinse is helpful
  • This does not include plastic bags! While plastic bags can be recycled, they often get wound up in equipment, damaging or delaying the recycling process. Most grocery stores have places to drop off plastic bags for recycling.


  • Aluminum cans are 100% recyclable and can be turned into a new can within 60 days of being recycled.
  • Tin foil is able to be recycled if there is no food attached to it.
  • Make sure you rinse out any leftover food from cans before recycling.

recycle plant

via KUT

No, don't put these in your blue bin -

Not everything that can be recycled can be put in your blue recycling bin. Look for other places to recycle these items. 


  • Look for a local drop off location for glass recycling.


  • Consider donating your used clothing to a thrift store.

Paper towels and napkins

  • The fibers of these products are so small they can’t be reused and they are often contaminated by food.

Food Wrappers

  • The plastic your cheese comes in, cereal bags, ziplock bags, etc. cannot be put into your blue bins. There may be drop off locations in your area for these plastics.


  • For large pieces of styrofoam or packing peanuts, you may be able to find a drop-off location in your area. However styrofoam cups, take out boxes, etc. cannot be recycled.


  • May electronic stores will accept electronics you are trying to recycle. Look for places in your area.

Hazardous Waste

  • Look for a hazardous waste drop off in your area.


It doesn't take long to sort your trash and minimize waste in your home. Pause to think before tossing your trash. Could it be reused or recycled? 

How have you set up recycling in your home? 



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