Plastic FAQs

Think Bottles and Containers!
All plastic food and beverage bottles
Most plastic food containers
Most other plastic bottles under 2.5 gallons in size
Just a few exceptions:
Styrofoam cups and trays and microwave trays are not recyclable.
If the bottle contained motor oil, antifreeze, pesticides, herbicides, adhesives, paints, or solvents, it cannot be recycled. The residue from motor oil and chemicals seeps into the plastic and contaminates it.

See our Plastics Recycling Brochure for a specific list of what types of plastics can be recycled.

Are plastic bags recyclable at the MRF?
No! Plastic bags, plastic wrap, and other plastic “film” are not recyclable at the material recycling facility (MRF).

Do not put your paper or containers in plastic bags prior to recycling. Plastic bags are a serious contaminant and litter problem at the recycling facility. Check with your grocery store to see if they accept clean grocery bags for recycling and if so, what are their guidelines. If they don’t accept them ask them to begin a recycling program.

I know I should wash out my cans, bottles and jars for recycling, but I’m not sure how clean they need to be. What about oil bottles?
Just one rinse for recycling should be sufficient, even for vegetable oil bottles. Cans, jars and bottles that are rinsed before recycling are cleaner and thus more valuable. Also, clean containers are less attractive to bugs.

Bottle caps can remain on the bottle for recycling

Motor oil containers cannot be recycled.

Can I recycle Styrofoam?
Styrofoam is a brand name for the material made from a type of plastic called polystyrene. Polystyrene is not recyclable in at the materials recycling facility (MRF). Do not put Styrofoam products with your recycling.

Why can’t prescription or vitamin bottles be recycled?
Prescription and vitamin bottles go through a different manufacturing process and, as a result, do not have the same melting temperature as other plastic bottles. (You’ll notice they are much, much harder than other narrow-necked bottles.) They have a different consistency at the same melting temperature (sometimes thinking of “soup” versus “pudding” is helpful), making them incompatible in a re-manufacturing process.

Can I recycle a motor oil bottle with a #2 on the bottom?
No. Motor oil residue has become one of the biggest contaminants for our plastics markets. The residue seeps into the porous plastic and cannot be removed through the washing process. Of course you should never try to rinse or wash a motor oil bottle yourself since motor oil down the sink or storm drain causes a much larger environmental crisis than a plastic bottle in the trash. A motor oil bottle in a pile of plastics could potentially contaminate a whole batch of otherwise-recyclable materials and cause the whole lot to be sent to the landfill.

Do I need to step on my plastic containers before recycling?
No, you don’t have to step on plastic before recycling it. Some plastic, like milk jugs, is easy to step on and it saves space in the recycling container. Other plastic will just “spring back” when stepped on. Never step on plastic when it’s on the ground because it will pick up dirt and stones which are not recyclable.

Are black, #1 microwaveable containers recyclable?
No. Black plastic is not recyclable because of the dye. This includes microwaveable trays as well as other items.

Why can’t I recycle plant pots?
Plant pots can’t be recycled because the plastic is too dark to be used in new products. Also, there can’t be any type of dirt or residue in the recycling process. A local garden store may take them for reuse.