A Simple List of What Can and Cannot Be Recycled

written by EcoScraps Staff

Confessions of a Not-So-Good Recycler

How is it I’m 24 years old and somehow still don't know how to properly recycle? I recently moved in with my sister and it’s becoming very clear that she's a lot better at it than I am. I’m not against recycling in any way, and I would do it even if it required more work on my part. It seems like there is always a mysterious never ending list of what can and cannot be recycled. After being reminded by my sister to recycle a frozen waffle box one morning, I decided it was time for me to do some research.

Three General Guidelines of Recycling

  1. Recycle all bottles, cans, and paper
  2. Keep items relatively clean
  3. Don’t mix plastic bags in with the rest of your recycled items

Do Recycledo recycle items

Rigid Plastics/Bottles

  - Any plastic bottles or containers found in your kitchen

Paper and Cardboard

  - Cereal/snack cardboard boxes

  - Phonebooks, magazines, and mail

  - Office Paper, newspaper, and cardboard


  - Tin, aluminum, and steel cans


  - Food containers or jars

  - Soft drink and beer bottles

  - Wine and liquor bottles

Don't Recycle

Don't Recycle Items


Loose Plastic Bags

  - Plastic shopping bags

  - Plastic stretch wrap

Polystyrene Foam Cups or Containers

  - Egg cartons

  - Take out containers

  - Drinking cups

Soiled Food Items

  - Food soiled containers  

  - Soiled paper products


  - Broken or sharp glass

  - Fast food packaging

  - Plastic Utensils


Recycling Options Change Depending on Where You Live

Depending on where you live and what service provider you have, your recycling options will vary. Some service providers allow you to put all your recycling (except glass and plastic bags) into one bin. Most communities will have drop off locations specifically for plastic bags, while others may support local food waste recycling which can be turned into sustainable gardening soil. Check to see if your city has a food waste program like this one in Seattle: Food Waste in Your Yard Scraps Bin

To get a better idea of what is available in your area check out this website:

If you're interested in recycling your own food waste check out this article:

Here are a few websites that go into more detail of what can and cannot be recycled: