Meal Delivery Kits: What Can I Recycle?

Since we’re all at home more now, a lot of us are probably tired of cooking, right?  The ads and commercials for at-home meal delivery kits have been on social media and commercials of every platform. Saint Louis City Recycles receives a lot of questions about which items are recyclable from your delivery kit, so let’s get cooking and see what can be recycled in our Blue Bins and what can’t!

Open Up!

Upon opening your delivered meal kit, your food will be insulated with padding and may have ice packs included to keep items cool. Different companies use a plethora of packaging materials. Many materials are unclear about whether they can be recycled or not. Let’s take a look at some of the common insulation used and whether it’s recyclable.

What insulation is recyclable then? The only packaging insulation that can be recycled in our Blue Bins is cardboard.

But, just because some insulation is not recyclable doesn’t mean it has to be sent to the landfill.

Save your insulation and ice packs to reuse when you go to the park or a friends BBQ. Offer them to a neighbor in your “Buy Nothing” Facebook group. Ship fragile items to a friend. It will come in handy to have these around to reuse.

Ice packs are not recyclable in our Blue Bins. The best option is to reuse or give them to someone who would reuse them. If you want to be an eco-her, dump the melted liquid in the trash. The clean plastic wrap can be recycled at the grocery store. If these options aren’t for you, the ice pack must be placed in the trash can. The liquid inside can ruin a lot of valuable materials if it were placed in the recycling.

Let’s Dig In!

Depending on the company you ordered your meal kit from, your produce will more than likely come packaged in plastic wrap. If you can find a company that doesn’t wrap it’s produce in plastic, eco-score for you! Some items will also be packaged in paper bags.

Examples of the packaging your meal kit food comes in.

Plastics: What’s recyclable?

While plastic film or wrap is considered recyclable, it is not accepted for recycling in our single-stream Blue Bin. These types of items can be “Recycled Beyond the Blue Bin.” Recycling beyond the Blue Bin is a way to reduce the amount of waste we send to the landfill by finding other organizations that accept hard-to-recycle items.

Lucky for us, plastic film that is stretchy and does not tear like paper can be collected with other plastic bags and film to be recycled at your local grocery or retail store. Learn more about recycling plastic film from the Plastic Film Recycling program.

Clean Up!

Once you have made and enjoyed your meal, remember to recycle responsibly. The insulation is not typically recyclable in our Blue Bins, unless it’s fully cardboard. Plastic bags and film that some items come in cannot be recycled in our Blue Bin, but can be recycled at your local grocery store. Plastic containers, like clamshells, can be recycled in our Blue Bins. Paper bags and the flattened cardboard box can be placed in the Blue Bin also. It is very important that there is no food residue on your items before you recycle them because food scraps can cause contamination of other recyclables. Always keep items loose, clean and dry!

Please comment if you have a question about what can and cannot be recycled in your Blue Bin! Now, what’s for dessert?


  • Jeanette says:

    Can I recycle LED light bulbs? Does the City of St Louis accept lightbulbs? What about LED Christmas lights? Plastic disposable razors? Casing of ball point pens? Thank you!

    • Samantha Villaire says:

      Hello, thanks for your questions! LED lightbulbs can be placed in the trash since they contain no mercury or harmful metals. Once the season is upon us, LED string Christmas lights can be recycled at Earth Circle Recycling or some Home Depots will accept them for recycling. Plastic disposable razors need to be placed in the trash since they are too small and considered a “one-time-use disposable.” Casings for ball point pens also need to be placed in the trash because they are too small and will either end up as litter or jam the machinery. The smallest plastic item we can accept for recycling is a regular sized pill bottle. Thanks for recycling responsibly!

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