Back to the Basics: Materials That Can Usually Be Recycled

By Andrea Davis on September 7, 2018

One of the challenges with recycling is that guidelines can vary in different areas and even in the same area from waste hauler to waste hauler. What haulers and municipalities accept is usually based on the requirements imposed on them by the processing facility their recycling goes to. In an ideal world, we’d have standardization of guidelines for everyone, but at this point, that’s just a dream. So, what can well-meaning recyclers do to make sure they’re following the rules without making it too complicated? Keep it simple. Recycle only those materials you know are essentially universally accepted, like the following:

Plastic bottles—Bottles are pretty much standard fare for any recycling collection program, whereas other types of containers can sometimes be questionable. Whether it’s a beverage, health and beauty product or cleaning product, chances are the bottle it came in can be recycled just about anywhere. Just make sure the bottles are empty and clean. What may vary, however, is whether or not you need to remove the lids. Here at Granger, all plastic lids can be left on plastic bottles.

Tin and aluminum cans—Virtually any can that comes with food or drink in it can be recycled at most locations. There’s no need to remove labels from your cans. It is, however, important to make sure the cans are empty and rinsed clean.

Paper (non-food-related only)—Most writing paper, junk mail (including envelopes), magazines and newspapers can be recycled anywhere. Just be sure you don’t include any napkins, tissues, paper towels or similar types of paper.

Cardboard—Cardboard is one of the most popular materials to recycle. The trick here is making sure it’s corrugated (has that wavy layer in the middle), empty of all other types of material and clean (no pizza boxes). This category doesn’t include wax-coated cardboard or cardboard meant to keep items hot or cold, which are not accepted by many, including Granger.

Even if you only recycle these four materials, you are still doing something good for the environment, and it’s definitely preferable to putting a bunch of items that don’t belong in your recycling collection. If you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask, and when in doubt, throw it out!


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