Simple Recycling Guide


Ian Heraty

Confused by recycling? Don’t worry, it’s more complicated than just putting things in the bin. Here is a simple guide of what to recycle in order of priority.

1. Metal

Always recycle.

Aluminium is an infinitely recyclable material, and it takes up to 95 percent less energy to recycle it than to produce new aluminum, which also limits emissions, including greenhouse gases. Today, about 75 percent of all aluminum produced in history, nearly a billion tons, is still in use.[1]

Choosing between an aluminum can or a plastic bottle? Go aluminum baby!

Photo by Jonathan Kemper on Unsplash

2. Glass

Almost always recycle.

Glass is made from silica sand. Even though sand is everywhere, we’re running out of it.[2]

If you can reuse that glass jar or bottle for another purpose, keep it! It’s not hard to remove the label.

Certain types of glass are not easily recyclable (eg car windshields have a layer of plastic). For the most part, feel comfortable putting it in the bin.

Photo by Nacho Fernández on Unsplash

3. Paper

Recycle! (with conditions)

Paper with food grease or stains can’t be recycled. Just rip off the dirty parts and recycle what you can.

Photo by Tania Melnyczuk on Unsplash

4. Plastic


Some items like milk jugs and plastic bottles are recyclable. So make sure to put them in the bin. Other items like chip bags, plastic bags, disposable cups, plastic utensils, takeout containers, and other single use items must go in the trash. Putting these items in the recycle bin is called “wish-cycling” and hurts recyclers![3]

The problem with plastic recycling is that it is often not economical to recycle plastic. New plastic material is of higher quality than recycled plastic. Also, plastic takes decades (if not centuries) to degrade in the environment.[4] In that time, it wreaks havoc on our ecosystem.

If you can, make an effort to reduce how much plastic waste you create.

For more information about what’s accepted at your local curbside recycling program visit