Takeout and delivery is one of the best forms of self-care, and it's a booty you'll never dream of giving up. But all that delicious restaurant food has to be transported in something, which can create a lot of waste. If you occasionally want to have sushi, Thai or Italian food delivered, it's good to know which takeout containers can and cannot be recycled.
The same goes for containers from prepared meal delivery services or containers that house ready-made food from a hot buffet at your local supermarket. The better you recycle, the better your town or city's recycling system will work. In other words, knowing what cannot be recycled is just as important as knowing what can be recycled.
We spoke to Jeremy Walters, Sustainability Ambassador for Republic Services, the second largest recycling collector in the United States, for helpful tips and know-how on recycling to-go containers. Walters, a passionate environmental advocate, shared top tips for recycling takeout containers, which have a big impact on reducing your carbon footprint.
Tips for properly recycling takeout containers
1. Do some research on recycling. The most important thing you can do to streamline the process is find out which containers can and cannot be recycled. your specific area. This may vary depending on your area, so you should check with your local health department, often through their website.
2. Don't think you can recycle it. Just because a takeaway container has a recycle symbol on it doesn't mean it can be recycled where you live. Some manufacturers of inexpensive takeout containers will label them as recyclable even if they aren't.
3. Rinse thoroughly. When to recycle Any Make sure your to-go container is as clean as possible. Residues of food waste, especially fats and oils, can make the material unrecyclable.
Below are some general rules and guidelines about which takeout containers can and cannot be recycled, and the best way to recycle them.
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Take-out containers are Can not be recycled
Expanded polystyrene container: You may have seen these foam containers because they are most commonly used for takeout and delivery. Unfortunately, they cannot be recycled and must be thrown away.
Black plastic container: These are also popular choices in restaurants. Had made They are made from recycled materials, making them at least somewhat environmentally friendly, but they cannot be recycled and must be thrown away. Sorting technology at recycling plants hasn't yet caught up with these materials, Walters said.
Plastic utensils: Check with your service provider, as not everything made of plastic is recyclable and recycling of plastic utensils usually depends on your local facility. Even better, tell the restaurant when you order that you don't want plastic silverware.
Plastic bag: Food is often delivered in plastic bags, which cannot be recycled and can seriously damage local recycling facilities. If you want to dispose of the plastic bag, please return it to the store where you purchased it or reuse it. Even better, don't use them at all and ask for paper bags instead.
Dirty paper plates and napkins: These cannot be recycled if soiled with food or liquids, so look for reusable biodegradable or truly disposable products instead.
Pizza box with grease stains: In theory, cardboard can be recycled, but if it's soaked in oil or has hardened cheese, it can't be recycled. For happy medium: If there is no oil in the top of the box, please recycle it with the cardboard. The bottom half should probably go in the trash.
Some cities (such as Austin, Texas) are composting food-coated paper products curbside. These programs may not be available in your community, but it never hurts to check. And Block Bins, a shared bin composting startup launched in Chicago, offers a similar service even if your town or city doesn't.
Chinese container and clamshell: This is another type of container that could theoretically be recycled, but oil often soaks into the cardboard, so it's best to throw it away. Many products are also coated with sealants, which prevent leaks and make them difficult to recycle.
Take-out containers are can be recycled
Plastic clamshell container: Clear plastic takeaway containers with the recycle symbol can be recycled. Any plastic container labeled No. 1 or No. 2 can be recycled and should be recycled whenever possible.
Aluminum container: You know those things that no matter how hard you pinch them, they just can't be shut as tightly as the first restaurant? Yes, they can be recycled if they're clean.
Paper or cardboard containers: These are often made from recycled materials and You can recycle it yourself. Some are biodegradable and compostable, as long as they are thoroughly cleaned and have not absorbed much grease. Even if it is not recyclable, it is much less toxic when processed, burned, or buried than plastic or Styrofoam.
paper bag:Many restaurants send orders in large paper bags, which can and should absolutely be recycled or reused. On the other hand, plastic bags cannot do that.
beautiful paper products : Paper plates, napkins, cardboard pizza boxes, etc. do not haveItems that are heavily contaminated with grease can usually be recycled.
What else can I do?
We all know it's a tough time for restaurants, but it's also a tough time for the planet. If you don't mind gently telling your local restaurant that you appreciate them using one of the more environmentally friendly alternatives to plastic and polystyrene, you should. You can also send a polite anonymous email saying you really like the food and service, but on behalf of the planet, you have a small favor to ask.
Check out our list for more eco-friendly options. The greenest meal kit and find out How to properly recycle metal cans.