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Ask Charlie | June 09, 2009

Q: Which plastics can be recycled these days? - SHORELINE

Q: Dear Charlie,

Which plastics can be recycled these days? Many plastics are labeled with a number. Can I rely on those numbers as a guide for recycling?

A: Dear Eve,

It's not about the numbers! I wish I could answer this question with a simple recycle-by-number chart, but unfortunately plastic recycling requires a bit more scrutiny.

The number on your plastic product describes the plastic composition of your item but does not indicate whether the plastic can be recycled into a new product. Misleading? A little.

It's a plastic world out there, so before you throw your arms up and your plastics in the garbage, here are some guidelines for plastic recycling in Shoreline:


Plastic bags cannot be recycled in your curbside cart but they can be returned to most Shoreline grocery stores for recycling. Collect your clean grocery, dry cleaning or newspaper bags, and return them to a grocery store recycling station. Bags from bread, chips or produce may contain food residue that can contaminate recyclable materials. These bags go in the garbage.

Bottles, Tubs & Jugs
All round dairy tubs and all plastic jugs and bottles with a "neck" go in your recycling cart. "Clamshells" and other take-out food containers go in the garbage. Empty toxic materials containers belong in the garbage. Examples of toxic materials include motor oil jugs and bleach bottles.

Caps & Lids * UPDATED * 
Shoreline now accepts metal caps and lids for recycling. Lids, caps or tops made of plastic should be placed in the garbage.

Corn-Based or "Compostable" Plastics
Corn-based plastics marked "compostable" must go in the garbage unless they have been tested and approved by Cedar Grove Composting facility, in which case they go in your food & yard waste cart. A list of Cedar Grove approved compostable products can be found at

Pill Bottles
Non-prescription pill bottles go in your recycling cart. Prescription drug bottles cannot be recycled at home but they can often be returned to a local drugstore. Information about needle recycling is available here.

Plastic Cups & Utensils
Plastic cups, forks, knives and spoons belong in the garbage. Corn based plastic products are becoming more common and can often be collected in your compost cart. A list of Cedar Grove approved compostable products can be found at


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