Can I Recycle This?

Can I Recycle This?

Have you ever stood over the trash and recycling bins, wondering if the object in your hand can be recycled? I think we’ve all been there!

It may be more accurate that there are three types of recyclers.

  1. There’s the one I described, The Contemplator.
  2. There’s the person who doesn’t ask themselves the recycling question, The Landfill Enthusiast.
  3. There are the few people in the office that know the answers to the recycling questions, The Lecturers. These people can often be heard saying, “Are you going to recycle that?, or “ You know you cant’ recycle that.”

Regardless of which person you identify with, we could all use a refresher course on the rules of recycling. I don’t think it’s fair to assume everyone remembers how to recycle from when, or if, we learned about it in school. So, let’s go over some of the basics. Materials that can be recyclable are plastic, glass, aluminum, and paper. Beyond that, the Waste Management website lists three basic rules:

  1. Recycle clean bottles, cans, paper, and cardboard.
  2. Keep food and liquid out of your recycling.
  3. No loose plastic bags and no bagged recyclables.

The two biggest recycling mistakes that I’ve learned from (and I’m sure we’ve all done) are one, that trash bags and plastic bags are not recyclable; so, if you toss your recycling in a bag it’s no longer recyclable. Two, if there’s any food or drink on or in recyclable material, it is also no longer recyclable.

Now, we know what materials we can recycle, but let's get more specific. Here is a list of items that ARE recyclable: 

  • Plastic bottles and containers 
  • Food beverages and cans 
  • Paper
  • Broken down cardboard 
  • Food and beverage containers 
  • Glass bottles and containers 

These are NOT recyclable: 

  • Greasy pizza boxes! Stop trying to recycle these! When the grease soaks into the cardboard it's no longer recyclable! 
    • Rip off the top of the pizza box if there's no grease and recycle that 
  • Bagged recyclables 
  • Plastic bags 
  • Plastic wrap and film 
  • Flexible packaging, i.e. plastic boxes 
  • Cups with wax or plastic coating, i.e. Solo cups 
  • Styrofoam 
  • Dirty diapers 
  • Medical waste
  • Garbage waste 

Now let's talk numbers

I mean literally, the number in the recycling sign you see on the bottom or side of certain products. 









1: This number means the product is made of the most common plastic used for single-use drinks, these products are easily recyclable. 

2: This is a little heavier duty plastic, but still very recyclable! 

3: This is more rarely accepted, be sure to check what your local recycling does and does not take. 

4: Another rarely accepted plastic. 

5: These are becoming more accepted.  

6: These are foam products and are not typically accepted. 

7: This is a category that all the other types of plastic fall into. It's also labeled as "Miscellaneous", so you're curbside recycling pickup won't accept these. 


If you have any questions about recycling, or how to be more sustainable overall, please contact Medcom's sustainability team via email.

Happy Recycling!