The Truth About What You Can & Can't Recycle
Updated: Apr 21
Ever go to throw something in the trash or recycling bin and then go"uhh, is this recyclable?"Unfortunately, there is a good chance you’re recycling wrong. There are dozens of rules about what can and can’t be recycled. Because of this, people often fall short of their recycling goals, despite having the best intentions. To help you out, here at Rippl, we’ve put together a list of things you SHOULD and SHOULD NOT toss in your home recycling bin, including what the little number at the bottom of plastic products means!
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, it is important to realize that recycling rules differ in each town, county, and state, so it is important to check what your town publishes, in addition to our list.
What You Should Not Recycle:
Bubble Wrap & Plastic Wrap
Pizza Boxes (the grease on the cardboard is the reason for this)
Cords, Cables, and other E-Waste
Plastic Grocery Bags
To-Go Cups with Wax & Plastic Coatings (Cardboard Coffee Cups)
What you Should Recycle:
Plastic Bottles & Containers
Tin, Aluminum, and Steel Cans
Office Paper & Newspaper
Flattened Cardboard Boxes
Glass Bottles & Containers
So, what do those numbers in the triangle on the bottom of plastic products mean? Those numbers are “resin identification numbers” help recycling plants sort different types of plastic materials! Each number stands for a different type of plastic. We’ve put together a cheat sheet for which plastic types can be easily recycled.
Plastic No. 1: Recyclable
Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET or PETE): The most frequently recycled plastic. Found in: water bottles, salad dressing bottles, peanut butter jars
Plastic No. 2: Recyclable
High Density Polyethylene (HDPE): Tougher material than PET, and commonly recycled. Found in: milk jugs, laundry detergent bottles, butter tubs
Plastic No. 3: Recyclable
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC): commonly used in piping, but also can be found in shampoo bottles, cooking oil bottles, and cleaning bottles. PVC is easily recyclable.
Plastic No. 4: Not Widely Recyclable
Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE): the opposite of HDPE. This plastic is often found in the form of shrink wrap, dry cleaning bags, and produce bags. This type of plastic should not be recycled.
Plastic No. 5: Not Widely Recyclable
Polypropylene (PP): this type of plastic has a high melting point, so it is used to contain hot liquids. Type 5 plastic can be found in syrup and ketchup bottles, as well as bottle caps and straws. Type 5 plastic can usually be recycled, but you should check with your city or town.
Plastic No. 6: Recyclable in Some Forms
Polystyrene (PS): super versatile type of plastic. Can be soft, in the form of packing peanuts, or hardened, and found in CD cases and pill bottles. Type 6 plastics can often be recycled if they are in a hard form, but foam peanuts and other soft forms of type 6 plastic can't be recycled.
Plastic No. 7: Not Widely Recyclable
Type number 7 is more of a miscellaneous group for plastics. Think oven cooking bags, and 10 gallon water jugs used to fill the office water machine. Because type seven plastics vary so widely, you shouldn’t expect your local municipality to accept them.
Now you have no excuses! Rippl has you recycling like a pro- you're welcome.