Dispose of Takeout Containers, Utensils and Other Plastic Right

Do not place berry and produce containers, plastic food containers, utensils, takeout containers, Styrofoam, bakery trays and produce clamshells in curbside recycling. These items are not easily recycled and should be placed in the trash for disposal. We are unaware of any recyclers or business locations that can recycle these items.

Consider these items that should not be placed in curbside recycling, and the alternatives for recycling, reuse, or disposal:

  • NO clamshells, berry, or produce containers. 
  • 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 prescription medication bottles including translucent orange, blue, and green colors. See details on the medications page.
  • NO plastic coffee pods, plates, or utensils. See more about coffee pods.
  • 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 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 plastic 6-pack rings. Local breweries and beverage distributors, including Great Lakes Brewing Co., Market Garden Craft Brewery, Masthead Brewing Co., Ross Beverage, Rozis Wine House, Sibling Revelry Brewing, Tansy Recycling, and The Wine Spot, accept PakTech carrier rings and handles for recycling. There is also a drop-off at the Solid Waste District. You can also use a free mailback program for the rings. Rings made of film plastic should be placed in the regular trash.
  • 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 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.

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 of sorting out, processing, and recycling the various kinds of plastic.


NPR published a project in 2019 that helps explain plastics recycling.


Plastic products are created through thermoforming and blow molding. Earth911 explains the differences between the processes including how they are chemically different and melt at different temperatures, and how that affects recyclability.


Earth911 explains the problems with recycling items made of black plastic.


Which plastics can be recycled?
Plastic bottles and jugs can be recycled in all Cuyahoga County communities. If the item is shaped like a bottle, with a neck that’s narrower than its body, place it in curbside recycling. Items should be empty, clean, and dry. See details about plastic bottles and jugs.

Plastic tubs and cups can be included in recycling in certain communities. See details about plastic tubs and cups


Earth911 explains the difference between PET plastic bottles and PET plastic clamshells.

What are the alternatives?

Until there is a major shift in the demand for recycled materials and more sensible packaging design, consumers are limited in our recycling options. Consider these ideas for reducing waste.



Looking to recycle, donate or dispose of other items? Use the dark blue 'What Do I Do With?' search bar at the top of every page of this website. Allow location services or use the city drop-down to find opportunities in your local area.