Recycling Guide

By Data Company One

Recycling can be a confusing process with the number of symbols and rules attached to the sustainable practice. This guide created by DC1 aims to make the process easier to understand and help streamline your ability to recycle daily. These guidelines will cover the symbols involved with recycling, items that can be recycled, items that should not be recycled, and other useful resources.

The Mobius Loop

If you see any variation of this symbol, it is recyclable! There is a lot more to recycling than this symbol, but it will help you answer the basic question if an item is recyclable. Find information on dozens of more symbols at the bottom of the page.

The Mobius Loop indicates that a product can be recycled, but this does not mean the product was produced from recycled materials.

Is it recyclable?

Click an object to see if it's recyclable or not

Plastic bottle icon
This is recyclable
Plastic bottles
Chip bag icon
This is Not recyclable
Chip bags
Aluminum soda can icon
This is recyclable
Aluminum cans
Plastic bag icon
This is Not recyclable
Plastic grocery bags
Tin can icon
This is recyclable
Tin cans
coffee cup icon
This is Not recyclable
Coffee cups
Glass bottle icon
This is recyclable
Glass bottles and jars
Styrofoam icon
This is Not recyclable
Styrofoam
Cardoard box icon
This is recyclable
Cardboard boxes

Recycling acceptance may vary across different localities.

How to recycle common items

Plastic bottles  
Ensure the bottle is empty and clean/rinsed. Put the cap back on the bottle and simply place it in your recycling bin. There is no need to crush the bottle or remove any plastic labeling that may exist.
Food cans
Rinse out the can to remove any food residue. Completely remove the lid and place it back inside the can after cleaning. Carefully pinch the top closed to prevent the lid from escaping the can and help prevent injury from sharp edges.
Beverage cans
Simply place these aluminum cans in the recycling bin. There is no need to crush them or remove the pop tabs.
Glass
Beverage bottles can be recycled without any prep. Food storage containers should be rinsed free of food and the lid should be recycled separately from the glass. Labels do not need to be removed.
Cardboard
Ensure the cardboard is free of any Styrofoam or packing peanuts (these go in the trash) and flatten the cardboard to make room in your recycling bin. Do not worry about removing tape, staples, or labels.
"How2Recycle" infographic

How2Recycle labels

Transforming organizational waste management

How2Recycle provides labels on packaging that communicate easy-to-understand recycling instructions to the public. These labels can be found on packaging for many major manufacturers in North America. Data Company One Inc recommends visiting How2Recycle to learn more about these labels to grow your recycling knowledge.

Common recyclable materials

Plastic
Most of the plastic packaging for consumer goods is considered safe to recycle. The resin identification code (1-7) indicates the type of plastic used. PET 1, HDPE 2, and PP 5 are generally accepted for recycling. PVC 3, LDPE 4, PS 6, and Other 7 are typically harder to recycle, and best to check for extra labeling on the packaging or with your local recycling center.
Glass
Glass is infinitely recyclable but not every community allows glass recycling for curbside pickup. Check with your local guidelines to ensure your community permits glass recycling. If glass is not permitted, check for any nearby collection centers that can recycle the glass instead.
Metal
Aluminum cans, steel cans, and tin cans are the most recycled metal products. Ensure to place lids inside of the can before recycling. Rinse off any liquid or food residue from cans as failing to do so will make the item unrecyclable.
Paper
Newspapers, magazines, office paper, and cardboard are all recyclable. Paper products should be uncoated and residue free before recycling at home.

Common non-recyclable items

Plastic bags

Most communities do not accept plastic bags for recycling. They can damage and jam the processing equipment. Many grocery stores have a dedicated drop-off bin for taking plastic bags instead.

Multi-layer items

Each material type has a different recycling process. Items that are made from multiple materials are non-recyclable unless the materials can be taken apart at home.

Coated paper products

Paper and cardboard that are coated with a substance (usually plastic) to stop contents from leaking are typically not recyclable.

Unrinsed containers

Any plastic, metal, or glass containers that have not been rinsed of their contents should not be recycled. They can contaminate other items and make large bunches of recycled material unrecyclable.

Pizza boxes

Cardboard pizza boxes are not recyclable if they contain grease stains. Tearing off the stained pieces and placing those in the trash will allow you to recycle the stain-free parts.

Styrofoam

Styrofoam is very rarely recycled, and it’s recommended to place it in normal trash collection.

Electronics

Electronics should be taken to a special facility and not placed in either home recycling or trash.

Local recycling guidelines

We advise you to check your community recycling guidelines for more information and to ensure what items can and cannot be recycled. Keep America Beautiful is a great resource to find your local guidelines, curbside pickup schedule, and drop-off recycling center locations. Earth 911 allows you to input a specific typically non-recyclable item and find a location nearby that will accept it. Earth 911 also has Q&A sections for a large range of products and materials.

Identification symbols used in recycling

Plastic Resin

The plastic resin identification code/symbol is typically found on the bottom or near the bottom of the packaging. These do not automatically mean recyclability but instead indicate the type of plastic used for the item.

Plastic resin identification code/symbol table

European Union

These symbols are mandatory on all goods sold in the European Union. These symbols may also be found in the United States, so it is important to know them to have a comprehensive knowledge of recycling symbols. This table contains the more frequently seen symbols.

European Union Recycling symbols table

Other symbols

You may also find any of the below symbols on goods you purchase. They provide additional context and guidance on the recycability of your product.

Other recycling symbols table

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