Plastics – To Recycle or Not

Are you confused about what kind of plastics to recycle?  If so, you are not alone.  I see my clients saving all sorts of plastic items for recycling, most of which are not actually recyclable.

New York City recently sent out reminders to all residents about what should be recycled and what shouldn’t.  Check your mail to see if you got one.


What plastics do we recycle in New York City?

  • Plastic bottles
  • Plastic jugs

That’s it!   It doesn’t matter what number is stamped on the bottom — the only criterion is that it’s a bottle or a jug.  Check out if you want to know more.

Previous materials have defined a bottle or jug as something whose  “top is narrower than the bottom”.  Although they are no longer using this definition, it’s still helpful for me.   The current materials say, “If you wouldn’t call it a bottle or jug, don’t put it in your recycling bin.”


So what plastics are NOT recyclable?

  • Do NOT recycle plastic bags or plastic wrap
  • Do NOT recycle takeout containers or yogurt containers
  • Do NOT recycle plastic jars
  • Do NOT recycle packaging
  • Do NOT recycle toys

Get the picture?

Of course, this is only within the five boroughs of New York City.  Check your locality to see the rules for plastics there.  (For example, Los Angeles accepts almost anything plastic, while Philadelphia accepts only plastics that bear a #1 or #2 code.)


New York City does not recycle plastic caps.  Please remove them from the bottle or jug and put them in your trash.

Metal caps should be removed and placed with the metal recycling.

Again, this varies widely from city to city, so check your locality for the rules on caps.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.  Required fields are marked *