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What do you think when you see this word on a product?
Most of us who are not involved in the manufacturing process, hold a PhD. in Plastics or work in recycling can find this term confusing or just plain misleading.
We are naive when we think “recyclable” means that the item can be recycled when you place it into a common recycling bin. Sometimes it might mean that, but in reality it’s unlikely.

Usually, it’s not a straight out lie. The product they define can, most of the time, be recycled ONLY through very specific recyclers but more than likely it will NOT be recycled when placed in your household or neighborhood recycling.
Rule of thumb: The only things that are recyclable in the neighborhood recycling are the softer plastic items – coke bottles, water bottles, yogurt containers, fruit/produce containers… really daily items. Those that mostly have a #1, #2 and MAYBE a #5 on the bottom. But to stay away from those confusing numbers – just say bottles, jugs and jars… then you’re safe. Other things get tricky.
Some major culprits are – cleaning bottle caps, spray bottle sprays (the bottle is recyclable while the spray apparatus is not), toys of any sort, shoe soles, plastics on any type of electronics, etc.
If there is no recycling number printed on it it’s NOT recyclable
Regardless of what claims the companies make IF a product or container does not have a number printed on it – the likelihood is that it is NOT recyclable in your local recycling facilities. It likely falls into the #7 category and that’s messy business. You’d have to find a company/organization that would be willing to take it, and most of the time you’d have to have multiples to return as returning just a single item wouldn’t really make sense for you cost wise.
There are still options to discard
If you are like me and pledge no waste – and recycle everything you can – then there are options.
Check on Earth911 site
First you can check Earth911 Recycling Guide and search for Recycling locations in your area, and find out whether your municipality recycles a certain type of plastic or product. You just enter the type of plastic/product you’re wanting to discard and your zip code. The site gives you information about how best to discard the item.
Get a TerraCycle box
One of my favorites is TerraCycle. They have boxes available throughout cities across the world. You can take your non-recyclable items out to these boxes and dispose of them there and rest assured that they will be recycled in the best way possible. Another option, if you have space, you can get a box from TerraCycle (the magic everything box) – for less than $150 – keep it the entire year – fill it up with everything you don’t know what to do with – just no food. And send it back to them (they pay the shipping), at the end of the year. I’ll say more about this wonderful innovation in a future post.
Ship back to manufacturer
Another impactful approach is to ship it back to the company who’s claiming “recyclable” with a note saying it wasn’t recyclable in your municipality.
To be fair many companies who claim “recyclable” tend to have “take back” programs, and due to it’s cost and inconvenience it is kept hush hush. Like Keurig. You can check their website and see if you can find anything. Though a bit more labor intensive on your part this action raises awareness to their claims. Also be sure to contact the manufacturer and let them know. A false claim is a reason to be reported to BBB.
Be sure You’re Recycling Clean
Rule of Thumb: Please be sure that whatever it is you are recycling is clean… don’t throw in gunk… even a half full bottle of water or soda can contaminate an entire batch causing ALL of it to go into landfill or oceans.

So when KCups claim being recyclable it’s like all humans claiming 6pack-abs-able… true, if we do all the extra work we’d all have those model abs. The truth is, majority of us don’t.

Thank you for reading, please leave a comment if you have any specific questions and suggestions. Stay with love with mother nature and our beautiful blue and wishing you a plastic free day! 💙🐬💙

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