How to Recycle Different Packaging Materials


Many people ask themselves every day whether something is recyclable, either while holding their morning bottle of cold brew or opening a new delivery box. Here at Pioneer Packaging, we prioritize recycling and encourage our clients to opt for sustainable packaging options when given the opportunity. However, as part of the larger picture, every individual should make a daily effort to recycle as much as possible. 

The first step to recycling responsibly is knowing the guidelines. Read below for a clear overview of what packaging materials are recyclable and which are not.

Do Recycle

The packaging industry uses various materials to contain, display, or ship products. Therefore, it is essential to understand what packaging is recyclable and what materials are recyclable to minimize waste in the industry. 

Examples of common recyclable packaging materials:

  • Corrugated material (broken down)
  • Newspaper, packing paper, and shredded paper
  • Recyclable plastics (i.e., soda bottles, cups, or jugs)
  • Glass
  • Metal (i.e., aluminum cans or trays)

Some cities require sustainable materials to be taken to drop-off locations for recycling. These

items usually belong outside of your blue recycling bin but are handled by those at drop-off locations at your local grocery or retail stores.

Examples of everyday packaging materials that need to be taken to drop-off locations include:

  • Bubble wrap and air pillows (deflate)
  • Plastic shipping envelopes (labels removed)
  • Zip-top food storage bags
  • Plastic wrap packaging (i.e., plastic overwrap that encases paper towel rolls)
  • Various bags (i.e., shopping bags, newspaper bags, and dry cleaning bags)

Do Not Recycle

Another critical component of recycling is knowing what not to put in the bin. Restrictions basedon locationand material affect what you place in recycling and what is considered trash. The easiest way to discover if a material is recyclable is to search for your city recycling guidelines and find the specific instructions for the material you possess. 

Examples of non-recyclable packaging materials include:

  • Polystyrene
  • Crinkly plastics (i.e., cereal bags)
  • Compostable bags
  • Pre-washed salad mix bags
  • Frozen food bags
  • Candy bar wrappers
  • Chip bags
  • Six-pack rings

Now that we’ve covered what you should and should not recycle let’s discuss how exactly to recycle these packaging materials.

How to Recycle Packaging Materials

Location is an essential detail in the recycling process. For example, packaging materials deemed recyclable in your city are sometimes placed in your blue recycling bin. Other times, recyclable materials must be taken to a drop-off location instead of in your curbside recycling bin. Once the materials are given to a drop-off location, they are sent to a recycler and are repurposed to create other items. 

Another vital step to remember is how recyclable packaging material should be handled before being placed in the bin or taken to a drop-off location. Packaging can only be recycled if it is clean and dry. So, after checking if the material is recyclable, wash any packaging with food residue or dispose of any permanently soiled packaging in your regular trash can. 

Although this rundown on recyclable packaging provides plenty of information and valuable tips, please check your local guidelines on recycling. These guidelines vary from city to city and may drastically affect how you dispose of your packaging.

Pioneer Packaging Is Focused on Sustainable Packaging Innovation 

For over 35 years, Pioneer Packaging has been Arizona’s sustainable packaging company for designing sustainable product packaging that sells. Our creative designers work closely with you to ensure your brand is recognized for quality packaging design and materials. 

So we can design an option for you if you’re looking to get your paper product packaging at affordable prices, attract new customers, or increase your sustainability efforts by using recycled packaging materials. We strive to keep costs down as much as possible to help our customers keep their brands moving along production lines. 

Contact Pioneer Packaging today and learn why we’re a leader in packaging innovation.

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