What can we recycle?

My husband and I have pledged to reduce our trash and garbage and recycle more, but I get so confused about what can and cannot be recycled so I did a little research and decided to share what I’ve learned.

Please know that this is just a guide to help clarify some of the plastic recycling numbers. Check with your local city, municipality or townships for specific recycling guidelines. I’ve included some helpful links for more information at the end of this article.

Plastics that can be recycled:

    #1 Plastics: PET or PETE (polyethylene terephthalate) – some examples include the plastic water and soda bottles.

    #2 Plastics: HDPE (high density polyethylene) – some examples include juice bottles, milk cartons.

    #3 Plastics: PVC (polyvinyl chloride) – some examples include shampoo bottles, cooking oil.

    #4 Plastics: LDPE (low density polyethylene) – some examples include lotion and sunscreen bottles, food storage containers.

    #5 Plastics: PP (polypropylene) – some examples include yogurt containers, some medicine bottles.

    #6 Plastics: PS (polystyrene) – some examples include clear carryout containers, some vitamin bottles.

    #7 Plastics: Miscellaneous other plastics – some examples include water cooler bottles, microwave containers.

Other materials that can usually be recycled: glass, aluminum, steel, paper.

During my research I was surprised by some of the items that shouldn’t be recycled:

  • Pizza boxes because of the residue oils and food.
  • Paper napkins and papertowels, again because of the residue grease and food particles.
  • Plastic caps should be removed from your bottles before recycling. Some recycling centers will collect them separately.
  • Wire hangers. These can often be returned to your local dry cleaners or scrap metal yard. Most recycling centers are not equipped to handle these.
  • Dark colored/dyed paper or wet paper is difficult to recycle or may contaminate other paper recycling.
  • Plastic grocery bags should not be recycled with your other plastics but instead should be gathered together and dropped off at your local grocery or department store recycling boxes. Make sure they are clean. If they are dirty, have food spills, etc. throw them away.

Additional articles and web resources:

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