Why are some things recyclable through municipal recycling, and others aren’t? It all comes down to economics. Find out why your curbside recycling program only recycles a few types of waste streams and how TerraCycle can recycle your hard-to-recycle trash: 

What is considered recyclable? 

Most curbside recycling programs only accept cardboard, aluminum cans, a few types of plastic like #1 and #2, and glass containers. Curbside recycling programs only recycle these select waste streams due to the economics of recycling. The cost of the recycling process includes collecting, transporting, handling, and storing the trash and then processing the trash by cleaning, shredding, and converting the material. 

If the cost for this process is low enough that your curbside recycling service can make a profit, they’ll accept the item. If it costs more to recycle an item than the processed material will sell for, they most likely won’t accept it. 

How TerraCycle recycles the unrecyclable

At TerraCycle, we can recycle your hard-to-recycle items that typically aren’t accepted by curbside recycling services because we work with brands, retailers, and other stakeholders who fund the process. This is known as  “voluntary extended producer responsibility.” 

Our in-house scientists and material application specialists make up our Research and Development (R&D) organization. They analyze materials and develop processes to recycle these hard-to-recycle items and turn them into something new. Learn more about our recycling process here. 

Then, our Materials Solutions team finds the right recyclers to process the material and connect with manufacturers who make new items from this raw material, such as shipping pallets, insulation, electrical conduit, cable sheathing, and outdoor furniture. 

With TerraCycle, you can recycle your hard-to-recycle trash that your curbside recycling programs won’t accept, such as snack packaging, cigarette butts, makeup empties, toys, and so much more. 

How to recycle your hard-to-recycle trash with TerraCycle 

There are a couple of ways you can recycle your hard-to-recycle trash with TerraCycle:

Keep trash out of landfills and incinerators by recycling the unrecyclable with TerraCycle.

One thought on “Why are some things recyclable and others aren’t?

  1. I live in Washington, DC. We have recycled cans but they’re used for regular trash. As far as I know DC doesn’t have a recycle system like other cities/states. I wonder why that is? Is it because were the seat of the country, or because of the politicians???

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