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Aug 18

Dear Recyclinda: Are recycling bins recyclable?

Posted on August 18, 2017 at 8:49 AM by Becky Robinson


Dear Recyclinda,

I just got new recycling bins dropped off at my home. Are the old recycling bins recyclable?

Tom in Jupiter

You make be asking yourself, "Where has this information 'bin' all my life!?"

The truth is that though they are made from recycled plastic, your blue and yellow recycling bins are not recyclable curbside in Palm Beach County. They should be put out with the trash. When they come to the SWA, they are burned to generate electricity at one of our renewable energy facilities. (Pro Tip: If you find that your garbage man will not take your old bins away, wrap them in a garbage bag.)

One reason curbside blue and yellow recycling bins are not recyclable in PBC is that they do not fit into the hopper on the side of the recycle truck, nor do they fit in the hole in the top of the recycle truck where the hopper dumps.

Ah, you say. But what if I break the bin into smaller pieces so that it would fit into the hopper? Well, unfortunately, when those pieces start going through the recycling process at the recycling center, they will either contaminate another recyclable (probably glass), fall off a conveyer onto the floor and be thrown away, or not be sorted correctly by the optical sorters, thus contaminating another recyclable.

Some folks get confused because the recycling bins have the recycling triangle with a #2 on it.

Blue Bin recycling symbol 2 HDPE_web
HDPE spring eternal

Recycling bins, like the vast majority of plastic products, have the triangle made of arrows with a number in the middle. But here's the deal: the number in the triangle symbol tells you only the kind of plastic an item is. Since the recycling bin is marked #2, we know it's made of high density polyethylene, or HDPE. However, the symbol can't tell you whether not a particular item is recyclable in a specific community's recycling program.

In Palm Beach County, plastic containers that are smaller than two gallons and marked with recycle symbol #1 through recycle symbol #7 are recyclable. This includes plastic restaurant takeout containers, laundry detergent jugs, soda bottles, yogurt cups, butter tubs and disposable party cups.

The one exception to this is foam containers, usually marked with recycle symbol #6. They are not recyclable in your blue or yellow bins. These foam containers should go back to your local grocer for recycling or placed in your garbage to be reused into energy.

Now you can say you have 'bin' there and seen that!


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