Plastics: What is Recyclable?

Plastics often leave us asking ourselves, “Is this recyclable?” ๐Ÿคจ There are so many different types of plastic bottles, containers, wraps and random plastics, it can get confusing. This blog post will make it easier for you to understand which items are recyclable in our Blue Bin, which are recyclable beyond the Blue Bin and which aren’t recyclable at all.

Plastic Bottles and Containers: Yes, Recycle in your Blue Bin!

Plastic bottles and containers that are empty, rinsed and have their cap replaced can be recycled in the Blue Bin. We have plastic bottles and containers in almost every room of our home. The graphic below will show some examples. Still not sure about an item? Email us a photo at or give us a call at 314-772-4646.

Getting take out? If you are curious about what takeout containers are recyclable, here is an easy-to-follow guide from Republic Services on what packaging items are recyclable and what items aren’t accepted in the Blue Bins. Republic services collects materials from over 85% of the Metropolitan St. Louis area, sorting nearly 800 TONS of recycling every day!

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Plastics: Recycle Beyond the Blue Bin

The most common plastics that are recyclable beyond the Blue Bin are plastic bags and wrap. These stretchy plastic bags, films and wraps are often brought home with us from the grocery store or received in the mail when items are shipped to us. Grocery bags, bread bags, produce bags, air pillows and cereal bags are a few of the plastics bags and film we can recycle back at our local grocery or retail store. You can learn more about what types of plastics are accepted for store dropoff by visiting or

Other plastics that we can recycle Beyond the Blue Bin include items we can donate to a secondhand store, rehome through local “Buy Nothing” Facebook groups and social media apps or even repurpose those items into something new.

Lower your waste and avoid sending items to the landfill that someone else could enjoy! Learn of places that accept your items for donate or repurpose through our database.

Plastics: Not Recyclable

While we may see the recycling symbol on a plastic item, that doesn’t mean it is recyclable. The recycling mobius with the number inside indicates to the manufacture what type of plastic it’s made out of, not whether it’s accepted for recycling in our communities. This is why it’s important to recycle only empty plastic bottles and containers, or reach out to ask us if you aren’t sure.

Plastics that aren’t recyclable and end up in the Blue Bin cause contamination at the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF). Contamination has impacts on the machinery, the workers and can cause other materials to lose their value. When people put items in the recycling bin with the hopes that they’ll end up being recycled, but end up as contamination, is often referred to as “wish-cycling.” Read our blog post to learn more about wish-cycling.

Remember to Stick with the Six, and when it comes to recycling plastics, ask yourself, “Is this a bottle or container? Does it hold its shape?” If you answer yes, recycle it in your Blue Bin! If your plastic is stretchy, it can possibly be recycled at your local grocery or retail store. Items that are smaller than 3 inches, larger than 5 gallons and aren’t a bottle or container more than likely cannot be recycled in the Blue Bin, or beyond.

If you have questions, always feel free to contact us regarding your item! or 314-772-4646.


  • Kristin Graham says:

    Your article is NOT reflecting that all us city residents who dutifully clean and deposit our recyclables in the blue dumpsters are still being emptied in the trash landfills! I watch the dumpsters come by through my alley 2 and 3 times a week emptying blue recycling and trash recycling into the same truck. I have been taking my recycling bags to the Crossroads School on DeBaulivere and am dismayed I am paying the city to do what I am paying for by putting gas in my car.

    • Samantha Villaire says:

      Hello Kristin. This article is not about the status of recycling, it highlights what plastic items we can and cannot recycle. The recycling can only be collected with the trash if it is high contamination inside. Taking your recycling to a dropoff is the best way to ensure your recycling is getting collected separately. If you feel this is happening too frequently, please contact your Alderperson or Neighborhood Improvement Specialist and have them look into this issue as the dumpsters are different colors for a reason. Thanks for your concern.

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