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 go 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. Think containers with a “neck.” Bottles and jugs should be emptied and rinsed. Replace the cap and put in your curbside recycling.

Plastic bottles and jugs must be empty, clean and dry before being recycled.

In addition, some local recycling processors can also recycle plastic tubs (eg., butter, sour cream, fruit and yogurt cups). Depending on which processor your community contracts with, you may be able to include tubs in your curbside recycling. Find out

What about those numbers on plastic containers? Does that mean the container is recyclable? 
The numbers on plastic containers are resin codes used by the plastics industry to identify the type of resin used to make the container. All plastic containers have a code but that does not mean the item is recyclable. That is why we should not look at the number to determine if it goes in curbside recycling. Instead, we look to the shape.

Plastic bottles and jugs can be recycled if it has a neck or an opening narrower than the body. Tubs and yogurt cups can be recycled if your community's recycler accepts them. See details.

What happens if I put the wrong plastics in my curbside recycling? Can I just throw in any plastic that I want and let the recycler deal with it?
If you put the wrong plastics in your curbside recycling, they will not be recycled. Instead, they will have to be sorted and landfilled, which increases the cost of recycling which is paid by your community, and ultimately, you.

Why can’t all plastics be recycled?
There is an abundance of plastic packaging in our society today and only about 9% of it can currently be recycled. This is due to limited markets for recycled plastic (not all manufacturers produce packaging from recycled plastic) and the complexities or sorting out the various kinds of plastic.

Until there is a major shift in the demand for recycled plastic and more sensible packaging design, consumers are limited in our recycling options. But we do have a choice now to reduce our consumption of single-use plastic. Small changes add up to less plastic waste in our landfills and our environment. Consider these ideas for reducing waste.

What are the “wrong plastics” for curbside 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 and coffee pods.
  • NO yogurt cups or tubs. Update 1/12/2021: Some recycling processors that service Cuyahoga County communities accept tubs (eg., butter, sour cream, fruit and yogurt cups) in curbside recycling. Recycling services have expanded. See details.
  • NO clamshells, berry or 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, rigid vinyl 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.
  • NO plastic 6-pack rings. Some local breweries and beverage distributors, 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.

What about plastic from a business? 
Multi-family housing units and other commercial residential properties can recycle too. See our guide.

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