What types of plastic and paper CANT be recycled?

I’m still a little confused especially with plastic. My city accepts #1-#7 types, except styrafoam.
What about stuff that isnt labeled? Such as plastic cereal bags, chip bags, and frozen food bags?

With paper, what about pizza boxes, frozen food boxes?
I was told “no shiny” papers? What does that mean? I thought paper was paper…



  1. 0 Votes

    Pizza boxes can’t be thrown in with recyclables because of grease and food residue. Any paper that has food on it can’t be put in with regular recyclables.

    Plastic bottle caps can not be recycled. Make sure that you only put things that are marked with what your local recycling agency accepts.

    It is important that you don’t include anything other than what your recycling agency accepts into your recycle bin, because having the wrong thing can cause an entire bin to be thrown out, making what could have been recycled trash.

    Don’t put recyclables in plastic bags. Most recycling agencies will not open and go through things in plastic bags, and the contents end up in the trash.

    Paper that can’t be recycled includes anything that has been contaminated by food, waxed or laminated paper, thermal paper, and anything with a plastic lining (juice boxes, milk and juice cartons, etc).

    By shiny paper, your agency might mean glossy paper, like magazines and junk mail advertisements. I would call and double check to make sure!

  2. 0 Votes

    Some of it depends on where you live. Paper must be clean–greasy cheesy pizza boxes can’t be recycled, even though they are cardboard. But they can be composted if that is available. 

  3. 0 Votes

    The numbers on the bottom of plastic containers do not mean that these containers can be recycled. All these numbers are doing is identifying which plastic type the container is. It is a very good thing to check with your recycling company and see which types of plastics are accepted, as it seems you have done. Plastic bags are commonly made from types 2 or 4, although some places will not accept plastic bags. If you got a plastic bag from a store, there will be an area where you can bring back your plastic bags and recycle them there.

    As far as paper, you cannot recycle food contaminated paper (including pizza boxes), waxed paper, carbon paper, pet food bags, stickers, or juice box materials.

  4. 0 Votes

    Some plastics are harder than others (thermoset plastics are of this type and are labeled with the #6)–they are, therefore, not easily melted and re-used. Whereas, thermoplastics are more heat-sensitive and lend themselves to reshaping.

    Plastics that should not be put in with recyclables include:

    1. Polystyrene containers (all #6 plastics).

    2. Containers previously containing solvents, paint, motor oil.

    3. Toothpaste tubes, anything made with rubber, toys, tools & house wares.

  5. 0 Votes

    The first URL below has an excellent list and brief explanation of materials accepted by our recycling service. Different communities may vary– probably not much.

    Regarding paper– some of it is treated differently. Magazines (advertising flyers, many books, etc.) are printed on “clay-coated” paper to make the photographs look much better and use less ink.  It’s recyclable!

    The cardboard/paper used for frozen food packaging is treated with a coating to reduce freezer burn. It’s not recyclable. 

    The 2nd URL has a more extensive article. See the section “Drawbacks” to see about frozen food boxes.

  6. 0 Votes


    I came across your question and some of the answeres supplied and wanted to take the opportunity to provide additional information about milk cartons and juice boxes.  Cartons are recyclable!  Made mainly from paper, cartons are in high demand as a recyclable commodity and can be made into new products.

    One of the common myths about cartons is they are made with a waxy coating.  Not true!  Cartons consist of thin layers of polyethylene (plastic) and aluminum, along with paper in the form of paperboard.  These layers are important for to keep the food or liquid fresh. 

    Cartons are being collected for recycling in communities serving over 34 million households across the U.S, which continues to grow due to the efforts of the Carton Council.  Who is The Carton Council?  It’s a group of carton manufacturing companies that is committed to increasing carton recycling in the U.S. By promoting both recycling technology and local collection programs, limiting the number of cartons that are headed for the landfills.


    For more information about cartons, recycling and the Carton Council, please visit http://www.recyclecartons.com.  Be sure to check out our recycling locator feature to see if recycling is currently available in your area.  If not, check back soon, as new communities are added weekly.


    Thank you for your time!

    Carton Council Communications Team

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