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Boxes, bubble wrap and more: What’s recyclable?

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Find out which types of packaging can be recycled, which go in the trash, and how to avoid overflowing bins.

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Getting more delivered to your door? 

Here's a cheat-sheet for what goes where:

Plastic-padded mailers: Garbage 

Paper and plastic mailing envelopes with bubble wrap lining

Any padded envelope that’s lined with plastic bubble wrap should go in the garbage, never in recycling. Even if it’s paper on the outside, or labeled “recyclable” or “biodegradable,” it’s still trash. 

Packing peanuts & plastic air packs: Garbage 

No matter what they’re made of or how they’re labeled, all packing peanuts and air packs should go in the trash, never in recycling or compost.

Styrofoam: Garbage

All Styrofoam™ should go in the trash. (Or look for drop-off recycling locations.)

Paper or cardboard envelopes: Recycling

If it's made entirely of paper or cardboard it should go in your recycling bin. Tape, labels, or a plastic address window are OK. (But if it's lined or coated with plastic, it goes in the trash.)


More boxes than you can fit in your bin?

Large flattened cardboard bundled and leaning against recycling cart

To save space, break down and flatten boxes before putting them in your recycling bin.

Still too many to fit? Tape flattened boxes together in one bundle, and lean them next to your blue recycling bin.

Bundles should be no larger than 3 feet in any direction, so the recycling truck driver can safely and easily lift them.


Save packaging for reuse

Padded envelopes, packing peanuts and air packs can be reused to protect fragile items, like holiday decorations, framed photos or art. Plastic padded envelopes can even be used as make-shift waterproof laptop protectors.  

Cardboard boxes can be flattened and tucked away for the next time you need to mail or store something. Or offer them to neighbors for a move: Consider listing them on Nextdoor, Buy Nothing Group, or Craigslist


Questions on what to recycle?  

See the most commonly confused items at RecycleorNot.org or @recycleornot on Instagram. You can also send a photo of an item to @recycleornot on Instagram or call 503-234-3000.