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Can You Recycle Plastic Containers?

You might have the impression that anything plastic can be recycled, but unfortunately, that isn’t entirely true. While it’s true that most plastics put out on the curb for curbside recycling are accepted by your local waste management company, there’s also a variety of plastics that just can’t be recycled and should either go in the trash or to a special drop-off location such as https://www.recycleandrecoverplastics.org/

Can you Recycle Plastic Containers?

For many people, can you recycle plastic containers is a question that they have been asking for years?

The answer is that you cannot recycle many types of plastic containers. The main types of plastic containers that you will find in your home are the type of food and water containers we will discuss later. These are #1 and #2 plastic containers.

Before you can decide if they can be recycled or not, it will be important for you to know what these types of plastic containers look like and what type of plastics they contain.

Are All Plastic Containers Recyclable?

Plastic containers are recyclable, but not all of them. The most important thing to know is how to recycle food containers made from #1 or #2. If the plastic container has a recycling symbol next to it, you can be sure that it’s safe for recycling.

There are two types of plastic containers that you’ll find in your home: rigid and flexible plastic containers. Both types are recyclable, but there’s an important difference:

The most common type of plastic container is made from either #1 (polyethylene terephthalate) or #2 (high-density polyethylene). #1 plastic is used in most plastic food containers, including milk bottles.

#2 plastic is used in two types of containers: glass jars and some types of #1 plastic food containers such as milk jugs, water bottles, etc. It’s important to note that there are a few very specific circumstances under which you can recycle these containers. You need to know what the container looks like and what it’s made of before you can decide if it can be recycled or if the best option for you is to discard it instead.

What are rigid plastics?

If there’s no recycling symbol on a rigid-plastic container, it means that your local waste management company will NOT accept your container for recycling.

What are flexible plastics?

If the recycling symbol is on a flexible container, your waste management company WILL recycle it. In fact, nearly all plastic containers can be recycled using rigid or flexible plastic bins when you call your local sanitation department for instructions.

Plastic containers that contain #1 or #2 plastics don’t look the same, so they’re not accepted by most recycling programs. Instead, these plastics need to be baled and sent to plastics manufacturers who will reuse the plastic for new containers, water pipes, etc.

A few states have special programs that accept #1 and #2 plastics separately from other rigid plastics. These volunteers are called “plastic bottle brigades” or “bag-a-bottle” or “plastics drop-off centers.” Be sure to call your local sanitation department for details.

What plastic food containers can be recycled?

If a plastic food container has a recycling symbol next to it, it means that your local waste management company will recycle the container and reuse it. This symbol is sometimes called the R-1 or the #1 plastic symbol.

When should I get rid of plastic containers?

You can get rid of plastic containers at any time. Just make sure that you are recycling or disposing of them in an environmentally safe way.

If you have open cans, be sure to transfer their contents into another container before disposing of them. Recycling plastic containers can be a very rewarding way to help the environment and reduce pollution.

While it is not possible to recycle all types of plastic waste, it is still possible to recycle many other types of household plastics and packaging material that you might find around your home. Plastic recycling programs are run by local authorities through special collection points in your area.

How do you dispose of plastic containers?

If your local waste management company takes plastic containers, it will probably recycle them at a commercial recycling center or by shipping them to a plastics manufacturer.

Depending on the type of plastic, the containers can be recycled for many different products. When you see a recycling symbol, you’ll know that it’s safe for recycling and the best option is to drop it off at your local waste management company or take it to a plastics manufacturer or commercial transfer station.


While it’s true that you can recycle most plastic containers in your community, there are a few things that you should know:

  1. Not all plastic containers can be recycled (i.e. plastics that contain #1 or #2 plastics).
  2. It’s important to find out if your local waste management company accepts these containers at all.
  3. If you know that your local waste management company has a special drop-off location for recycling, call and ask what the procedure is for dropping off and recycling plastic containers made from #1 and #2 plastics.

We’ve had success at our house by making sure all of our plastic food containers are made from either #1 or #2. You might also have success by checking the label on the bottom of your plastic container to see if it contains either type of plastic.

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