Are take-out containers recyclable?

Modern life, ease and even the pandemic have made it very common, at least in big cities, to order takeout. But with all those orders comes lots of plastic bags, containers, utensils, etc. and not everything can go in your recycling bin.

Just because takeout packaging has the recycling symbol on it doesn’t mean we can assume it can be recycled. Generally, the containers must be cleaned and look carefully in which container they will go or if there are no mixtures of materials.

As a general rule, the following materials are accepted, no matter where you live: paper, cardboard, metal cans and plastic containers labeled with a number 1 or 2.

Are take-out containers recyclable?  1

Here’s how you can determine if a take-out container and/or utensils can be recycled or composted.


When is it recycled and when is it not?

To get started, look for the recycling symbol. If it’s a plastic container labeled #1 or #2, you can recycle it. Cardboard cup holders and paper hot drink sleeves are also great for recycling. And aluminum, like clean cans and jars, is one of the best recyclable items, so always put it in your recycling bin when it’s empty, clean and dry.

But unfortunately, not all takeout items are created equal. A cardboard pizza box is not fully recyclable. If the whole box is dirty with grease and cheese, it should be thrown away or put in the trash (if available).

Compost instead of recycle

But, if half of the pizza box is clean, you can split it in half, recycle the clean half, and throw away or compost the dirty half. Paper napkins, paper towels and plant-based cutlery are suitable for composting, but should never be thrown away with recyclables.

Those who recycle us

Foam containers, plastic utensils, condiment packets and the plastic bag. None of them can go to the recycling bin.

Try omitting these items and materials from your next order and you can significantly reduce the amount of waste you create.

You should also carefully analyze containers that hold liquids and look like waxed cardboard, often the special coating that makes the paper “waterproof” so your food doesn’t leak everywhere, makes the paper unrecyclable.

Many companies are starting to change and offer more environmentally friendly solutions.

The amount of waste we generate and its management is one of the most important things when we talk about sustainability, always choose containers that can be recycled or composted, the former being really better, because the recyclable will give life to more containers that we can continue to use. , while the compostable ends its life cycle there, and the energy and water used in its manufacture will have been requested for a single use.

If you are ordering for your home or workplace where you have your own cutlery, you can specify in the order that you don’t need it and thus be a bit more durable.

Well, I hope you found the information helpful and learned how to recycle and properly handle these containers. If you have any questions, I’ll read them in the comments.

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