Ever wondered what the deal is with plastic? It seems confusing because some plastics are recyclable, but others aren’t.  Here are some basic guidelines to help you sort through your plastics (sourced from the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers):

Plastic bottles:

  • Bottles with plastic caps can be recycled! No need to go through the hassle of unscrewing the caps anymore (whew, finally).
  • On the flip side, watch out for metal caps though because those do need to be unscrewed before the plastic bottle is recycled.
  • Woah, hold up a second. Why are you using a plastic bottle anyway? Try out a nifty reusable water bottle instead, which happens to be all the rage on Tufts campus!

Bulky rigid plastics:

  • An increasing number of MRFs (materials recovery facilities) throughout the US now accept “bulky rigid plastics.”
  • What are these “bulky rigid plastics” you might ask? If you look around yourself and see any: carts (ex: curbside roll carts), crates (ex: milk crates), curbside recycling bins, laundry baskets, lawn furniture, or 5-gallon buckets, then you are looking at a “bulky rigid plastic” at this very moment!

Tubs and Lids:

  • Again, tubs and lids are now accepted at an increasing amount of MFRs throughout the US.
  • Tubs and lids consist of: yogurt containers, margarine tubs, peanut butter containers, medicine vials, kitty litter containers, tubs, and lids.
  • Mythbuster: tubs and lids don’t need to be as spotless as your fine china before they hit the recycling bin! Removing most of the food residue with a quick wipe-down will do the trick.

Plastic bags:

  • Unfortunately, plastic bags cannot be recycled at Tufts, since it bungles up the machines at the recycling plant when recycled alongside rigid plastics. However, plastic bags can be recycled as their own waste stream – look for a recycling drop off at your local grocery or retail store!
  • Additionally, though plastic films and wrapping (such as those covering cases of water) can not be recycled at Tufts, they can also be recycled at a plastic bag dropoff.

Fun facts:

  • Americans use 2.5 million bottles of water an hour.
  • Every 1 liter of water bottle production takes three liters of water to make it.
  • For every plastic water bottle that’s recycled, four more aren’t.
  • Plastic bags and other plastic garbage discarded in the ocean kill as many as 1 million sea creatures every year.


Read blog posts about plastics recycling!

For more information on the importance of recycling plastic, check out this infographic from




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