Packaging! What's Recyclable?


Packaging is a necessary part of life, but it can also present challenges in the waste stream. Some products, such as padded envelopes, are made up of multiple materials, and most recycling processing facilities are not set up to dismantle multi-layer products. Many of the molded plastics that contain our foods and other purchases are not readily recyclable because of lack of markets. The same is true for packaging items such as Styrofoam peanuts and plastic air pillows. Everyone is familiar with the simple issue of “over-packaged” items. 

We have attempted to provide guidance here on what to do with your packaging items in our jurisdiction. We recommend reuse and source reduction where possible, and as time goes on, we hope to see more refillables, but packaging of some type will always be needed.

All of the packaging materials below are NOT recyclable!  

Please place those items into your black landfill cart. 

Mail packaging 

  • Bubble wrap
  • Padded shipping envelopes
  • Styrofoam (like the molded material from electronics shipped in a box)
  • Packing peanuts
  • “Compostable” packing peanuts
  • Air bags
  • Ice pack packaging from meal prep kits like Blue Apron

Food packaging

  • Styrofoam meat trays
  • Tetra-pak (example: shelf-stable chicken broth and soy milk containers) 
  • Hot dog wrappers that are shiny on one side, paper on the other
  • Saran wrap
  • Stiff/crinkly plastic (example: cereal bags, cracker sleeves)
  • Juice and fruit puree squeeze pouches
  • Chip bags, granola bar wrappers, condiment packets
  • Straws & Plastic utensils (even if it’s labeled biodegradable or “compostable plastic”)
  • Take-Out containers (ex. Chinese take-out boxes – they are paper but lined with plastic, and also usually oily)
  • Net Bags (around Tangerines, avocados)
  • Produce stickers
  • Tea bags that have plastic in the tea bag material – you can tell because you can’t tear it easily
  • Keurig-type coffee pods

As you can see, the majority of packaging is not recyclable, so please make sure you put these items in the black landfill cart.  These items would contaminate the materials in the blue recycling cart.