20 Plastic Things You Didn’t Know You Can Recycle

1) Bottle and jar caps: Weisenbach Recycled Products accepts clean plastic bottlecaps, plastic jar caps, flip-top caps from personal care products, and flexible snap-on lids (e.g. butter tub lids) to turn into funnels and other items. CapsCando.com.

2) Brita pitcher filters: Preserve’s Gimme 5 program accepts Brita-brand pitcher filters for recycling. See #11 below.

3) Compostable bioplastics: Find a municipal composter at FindaComposter.com.

4) Computers and other electronics: Find the most responsible recyclers near you at e-stewards.org/find-a-recycler. Your local Best Buy store will also accept many types of electronics, large and small—from televisions and gaming systems to fans and alarm clocks. Best Buy partners with responsible recyclers that do not ship items overseas, including Green Business Network™ member Electronic Recyclers International. You can bring three small items per day to Best Buy for free. The company charges a fee to recycle large electronics. BestBuy.com/recycling.

5) Eyeglasses: Your local Lions Club collects them for people in need.

6) Fishing line: Mail to Berkley Recycling, which turns it into fish habitat structures: 1900 18th Street; Spirit Lake, IA 51360.

7) Gift cards and customer loyalty cards: Fill out the form at www.earthworks system.com/Consumers/ to recycle them. (Accepts conventional cards only, not bioplastic/ compostable cards.)

8) Ink Cartridges: RecyclePlace.com pays $1 each and will recycle them. (Also see
#12, “Technotrash.”)

9) Pantyhose/tights: No Nonsense collects all brands of hose, tights, and kneehighs to be recycled into other products. NoNonsense.com/PantyhoseRecycling.aspx.

10) Plastic packaging: Many pack-and-ship stores will take packing peanuts and bubble wrap. For drop-off locations for foam blocks, contact the Alliance of Foam Packaging Recyclers.

11) Polypropylene (#5) plastics (all types): Preserve’s Gimme 5 program accepts all types of clean #5 plastics, which are turned into Preserve personal care and kitchen products. Drop them off in the “Gimme 5” container available at select Whole Foods and food co-ops. Visit preserveproducts.com/recycling to find a location or learn how to mail them in.

12) “Technotrash”: Organizations and schools can earn money for recycling ink cartridges and small electronics like cell phones and iPods through ProjectKOPEG.com. Recycle a large box of CDs, DVDs, jewel cases, audio and video tapes, small electronics, and ink cartridges for $30 (includes postage) through Green Disk, 800/305-GREENDISK, GreenDisk.com.

13) Telephones: Call to Protect (donateaphone.com/calltoprotect) refurbishes cell phones for domestic violence victims (see also “Technotrash,” above). Take corded and cordless phones to a local Best Buy for recycling.

14) Sports equipment: Resell or trade it at your local Play It Again Sports outlet, 800/476-9249, www.playitagainsports.com.

15) Tennis balls: reBounces restores old tennis balls that have lost their bounce.

16) Tennis shoes: NikeReuseAShoe.com turns them into athletic flooring. Souls4Souls.org and OneWorldRunning.com sends still-wearable shoes to runners in need in developing countries.

17) Toys: Domestic Metals and Plastics accepts plastic toys of all types for recycling. Dmpgreen.com.

18) Trophies: Lamb Awards will break your trophies down and remake them into
new ones. E-mail internet at lambawards dot com, and put “recycling” in the subject line.

19) Tyvek envelopes: Quantities less than 25: Send to Tyvek Recycle, Attn. Shirley B. Wright, 8401 Fort Darling Road, Richmond, VA 23237. More than 25: call 866/33-TYVEK.

20) Yoga mats: RecycleYourMat.com accepts yoga mats for recycling.


This article first appeared in the Green American in our Nov/Dec “Plastics Challenge” issue.  For more tips and resources greening your life, subscribe to the Green American.  
Our Jan/Feb issue about finding a better bank is headed to the printer right now.   >>

Categories: green living, Plastic Monday

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  1. Thanks for this information. These are definitely some items that many of us aren’t aware that we can recycle.

    A note on the Nike ReuseAShoe program…many local communities partner with Nike on this one…my own being one of them….so check for local sources. GreenDisk also partners with locals.

  2. Nice list of things I wouldn’t have thought could be recycled. I never would have thought of restoring my tennis balls that have lost their bounce.
    #12 Technotrash sounds like it would be a good idea for organizations like the boy scouts or girl scouts to raise money. I’d gladly donate some ink cartridges or small electronics to the girl scouts instead of buying their cookies that I usually give away. They’d probably make more money.

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  18. As a recycler I am always trying to gather more information about what we can and can’t recycle. It looks as though just about anything can be recycled. Really informative, thanks for sharing.

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