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Surprisingly, anything is recyclable if there is a market for it. Most materials are able to be recycled, but what is collected for recycling is limited. This is usually due to economics. Recycling systems require collection and processing where costs and feasibility matter. For example, a material that has a low economic value and is difficult to handle or process is not going to be collected in most recycling programs. So the better question is “What is acceptable?”  Resin code numbers

Nearly all single-stream* recycling programs in Delaware accept the following items:

  • Aluminum cans
  • Plastic containers that are rigid, such as bottles, jugs, crates, and tubs.
    • PET (#1)
    • HDPE (#2)
    • LDPE (#4)
    • PP (#5)
  • Mixed Resins (#7)
  • Glass bottles/jars
  • Steel/Tin cans
  • Cartons
  • Papers
    • Magazines, catalogues, telephone books
    • Junk Mail
    • Envelopes
    • Newspapers
    • Corrugated Cardboard
    • Boxboard (cereal boxes)
    • Clean paper bags
    • Colored Paper
    • Paperback books
    • White Office Paper

For the most accurate description of what is acceptable in your recycling program, contact your specific recycling collector.

*Single-stream refers to recycling systems where recyclables are commingled. Items such as cans, bottles, and papers can all be mixed together. This makes it very easy, and convenient for people to recycle. It also saves transportation in the collection process. Single-stream recyclables are processed at Material Recovery Facilities (a.k.a. MRFs – pronounced “murfs”) where very sophisticated machinery separates the materials.  

Polypropylene (PP#5) is a plastic that is accepted by few recycling collection programsPlastic containers are usually labeled with a symbol and a number. The symbol does NOT mean that the container is acceptable in your recycling program.The number actually identifies the type of plasticresin that the container is made from. Containers labeled with a 1 or a 2 are almost always accepted because they are the highest value resins. Resins 4, 5 and 7 are now accepted in most programs in Delaware.

Examples of what is NOT acceptable in most programs:Resin code numbers

  • Anything with food residue or liquids
    • Pizza boxes free of cheese, sauce, and crust are OK for recycling
  • Used aluminum foil or trays
  • Styrofoam
  • Waxed paper
  • Plastic shell packaging

Being "not acceptable" does not necessarily mean that it is not recyclable. It means that your recycling collector does not want it.

Lots of other materials can be recycled. Many of them are items that you might discard much less often. These include:

- Electronics
- Rechargeable batteries
- Cellphones
- Ink cartridges
- Building materials
- Organics, Compostables, and Yard Waste
- Clean Styrofoam (Call DSWA @ 1-800-404-7080)

For more information visit the How to Recycle Guide or visit

CLOSE THE RECYCLING LOOP: Please note that it is very important to purchase items with recycled content. Collecting recyclables is important. But if you really support materials going full circle, buy items with recycled content.

Click here to returnto the Recycling Page.

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