Plastic Bottles & Jugs

Plastic Bottles & Jugs

Can all plastics be recycled? Which ones go in Cuyahoga County's recycling?
All empty plastic bottles or jugs can be placed in your curbside recycling. This includes items like water and soda bottles, shampoo bottles, milk, water and juice jugs, laundry detergent jugs and bleach bottles. Bottles and jugs should be emptied and rinsed. Replace the cap and put in your curbside recycling.

Most local recycling processors are only able to accept bottles and jugs for recycling at this time due to China’s recent import ban on mixed plastics. This ban has limited the types of plastics that can be recycled nationwide. Please support recycling by not putting other types of plastic into your recycling container. If you do, it will likely have to be sorted out as trash.

If it is not shaped like a bottle or jug, place it in the regular trash. 

Why do plastics have numbers inside recycling symbols if they’re not recyclable?
The numbers on plastic containers are resin codes used by the plastics industry to identify the type of chemicals used to make the container. The codes do not always mean that the item is recyclable, so we no longer look at the numbers on plastics to determine if it goes in curbside recycling. 

The shape of the container determines if it belongs in curbside recycling.
Only recycle items shaped like bottles and jugs. If it has a neck or an opening more narrow than the body, it can be placed in recycling.

What happens if I place the wrong plastics in my curbside recycling? 
Can I just throw in any plastic that I want and let someone else figure it out?
No. If there is too much of the wrong materials (contamination) in the curbside recycling mix, there is a chance that the recycling plant will choose to put everything, even the good recycling, in the regular trash. See more about contamination and wishcycling and why you should care about proper recycling

What about durable plastic six-pack rings and holders for beverages?
Local breweries and other businesses, including Great Lakes Brewing Co., Platform Beer Co., Ross Beverage and Sibling Revelry Brewing, accept PakTech rings and handles for recycling. Check with the business about the location of their collection bin. You can also use a free mailback program for the rings. Rings made of film plastic should be placed in the regular trash.

Do not include these items in curbside or drop off recycling:

  • NO plastic bags, wraps and netted produce bags. Bags wrap around the gears, wheels, and machinery at the recycling plant which clogs up the separation process and eventually shuts down the plant. Think of it like an item getting caught in the beater brush of your household vacuum. See more about plastic bags.
  • NO plastic coffee pods, single-use cups, plates or utensils. See more about plastic cups.
  • NO yogurt cups, tubs or berry and produce containers. 
  • NO flower pots. Empty plastic flower pots, packs and flats should be reused or placed in the trash for disposal. See more about flower pots.
  • NO plastic blister packaging. 
  • NO takeout containers, Styrofoam packaging, Styrofoam cups and Styrofoam food containers. This plastic has been expanded with air and is very fragile. It breaks apart into tiny pieces during the sorting process. See more about Styrofoam.
  • NO hangers, durable plastic or toys.
  • NO cat litter containers and 5-gallon buckets. These items are too large to be included. Consider reuse before placing them in the trash.
  • NO empty motor oil and antifreeze jugs. These containers may have residue of the hazardous materials they held and should be placed in the trash, not recycling, for proper disposal.

Apartment and condominium dwellers can recycle too. See our blog post about recycling options in your building.

Businesses can recycle industrial plastics via local specialized companies. See a list in our Business Recycling Directory.