Recycling is a sustainability practice of processing waste or thrown away materials to convert them into new products or raw materials. Here is the Recycling Chart for a complete understanding.

Read more about the positive impacts of recycling

Jobs Created by Recycling Industry

  • According to the findings of EPA and REI, recycle and reuse practices created 681000 jobs.
  • This industry also generated $37.8 billion in wages; and tax revenue of $5.5 billion.
  • The above data means that 1.17 jobs were created for every 1000 tons of recycling of materials.
  • For every ton of recycling, wages of $65.23 are distributed, and $9.42 were received as tax money.

workers at paper recycling factory

The Recycling Symbols

Decode Your Plastics

No. Symbol Type of Plastic Usage Safety Feature Recycling Purpose
1 plastic type - 1 PETE or PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) Clear cases and bottles. For instance, disposable water bottles Mostly Safe For making tote bags, carpet, polar fleece, etc.
2 plastic type - 2 HDPE (High-density Polyethylene) Opaque bottles like cleaning products bottles and cereal box liners Mostly Safe For making tote bags, carpet, polar fleece, etc
3 plastic type - 3 V or PVC (Vinyl) Works as hard plastic in PVC piping, cooking oil bottles, and toys Toxic material For making speed bumps, decks, gutter, paneling, etc
4 LDPE (Low-density Polyethylene) Malleable plastic for making shopping bags and bread bags, which can be squeezed easily Not safe when heated or microwaved For making floor tiles, compost bins, shipping envelop, etc
5 PP (Polypropylene) Easily colored and hard material used for yogurt tubs, plastic furniture, ketchup bottles, and plastic bottle caps The Safest Plastic For making bicycle racks, brooms, ice scrapers, etc
6 plastic type - 6 PS (Polystyrene) In egg cartons, disposable cutlery, and meat trays Harmful and toxic Can’t be recycled easily but sometimes can be used in certain kinds of packing material
7 plastic type - 7 Others This category is for dangerous BPA-containing plastic. These materials are denoted with numbers 7, 5, and 3, used in phones and computer cases Avoidable It can’t be recycled easily but sometimes can be used in plastic lumber

Recycling No-Brainers – What Can be Recycled!

Glass Plastic Paper Cardboard Metal
  • All Glass containers except Pyrex
  • Water Bottles
  • Laundry Detergent Bottles
  • Household Cleaner Bottles
  • Bleach Bottles
  • Dish Soap Bottles
  • Soda & Juice Bottles
  • Mouthwash Bottles
  • Peanut Butter Containers
  • Salad Dressing Bottles
  • Vegetable Oil Bottles
  • Milk Jugs
  • Butter & Yogurt Tubs
  • Cereal Box Bags
  • Mail
  • Computer Paper
  • Lined Paper
  • Construction Paper
  • Greeting Cards
  • Newspaper
  • Magazines
  • Catalogs
  • Phone Books
  • Sticky Notes
  • Paper Cups & Unused Paper Plates
  • Receipts
  • Boxes
  • Cereal Boxes
  • Shoe & Gift Boxes
  • Toothpaste Boxes
  • Cardboard Tubes
  • File Folders

Non-Recyclable – What Not to Recycle!

  • Styrofoam
  • Used Disposable Plates & Cups
  • Meat Trays
  • Take-Out Containers
  • CD Cases
  • Sunglasses
  • Nylon
  • Metal Caps & Lids
  • Spray Tops From Cleaning Bottles
  • Blueprint Paper
  • Cigarette Boxes
  • Waxed Paper
  • Laminated Paper
  • Pet Food Bags
  • Ceramics
  • Heat-Resistant Glass (like Pyrex)
  • Padded Mailing Envelopes


  • Egg Cartons*
  • Brown Paper Bags*
  • Shredded Paper*
  • Newspaper*
  • Paper Towels (as long as not coated in cleaning chemicals)
  • Wooden Chop Sticks
  • Grass Clippings
  • Dry Leaves
  • Green Leaves
  • Tea Leaves & Bags
  • Coffee Grounds & Filters
  • Fruit & Vegetable Scraps
  • Plant Pruning
  • Crushed Eggshells

* Recyclable at places

Read Also: How Does Recycling Save Energy?

Special Treatment for Recycling

  1. Tetra-packs, Tupperware, Baby Food Squeeze Packs, Etc.

    tetrapacksThese items might not be allowed by the municipality to recycle. But you can approach the Terracycle. It is an organization based in New Jersey that helps in recycling hard to recycle items like these.

  2. Water Filters

    water filter

    They are made up of organic material and plastic. They are also hard to recycle. Brita filter recycling program might help in recycling water filters.

  3. Electronics

    electronicsThere are drop-off stores where you can leave electronic appliances. Apple also provides gift cards in exchange for old electronic equipment.

  4. Light Bulbs

    bulbsIt contains mercury which should not go to waste in landfill. Many hardware stores collect old light bulbs for recycling.

  5. Batteries

    batteryThe chemicals used in batteries are too dangerous to throw in the landfill. There are recycling boxes at the library and school where you can dispose of small batteries. Car batteries can be returned to the store from where you bought them.

  6. Wine Corks

    wine corksFind out a nearby Recork drop-off. They make shoe soles out of wine corks.


Common Recycling Myths

  • People believe that containers and jars need to be super clean before giving them for recycling. But you only need to clean them enough to not leave any food particles in them.
  • There is a myth that you can throw all kinds of waste in there, and the professionals will sort it out. By mixing different materials in a single bin, you slow down the process and risk contamination.
  • Another myth is all kinds of glass can be recyclable. It’s not true. You need to check with authorities before giving away your glass bottles and jars.
  • People also believe they recycle enough. But the data doesn’t show that. USA citizens need to do more hard work.
  • The Mobius sign is not the guarantee of recyclable material as widely believed.