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?”
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
- Aseptic containers and cartons
- Magazines, catalogues, telephone books
- Junk Mail
- 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. The single-stream recyclables are processed at Material Recovery Facilities (a.k.a. MRFs – pronounced “murfs”) where very sophisticated machinery separates the materials.
Plastic 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:
- Anything with food residue or liquids
- Pizza boxes free of cheese, sauce, and crust are OK for recycling
- Used aluminum foil or trays
- 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:
- Rechargeable batteries
- 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 www.earth911.org.
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.