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Perhaps you've had the family discussion over greasy pizza boxes. Recycle or not? In New York City, it's "yes" as long as the box just has the usual oil spots. But if cheese or gunk is caked on, put it in the garbage.

Another common staple that too often ends up in the trash is paper coffee cups: They go in paper recycling. Coffee stains are OK; food is not. And the plastic lids? They go in the plastic, metal and glass bin.

Overthinking rules may be a reason half the city’s recyclables go to dumps, even aluminum cans, Cans don’t need to be pristine, just empty. An un-rinsed can is better than no can.

City guidelines say recycle “rigid plastics.” But how rigid? If you squeeze it and it snaps back to its shape, it’s OK. That fits a broad range of items: thick takeout containers, flexible yogurt tubs and even flimsier plastics, like produce boxes or clamshell packaging.

Don't know which plastics to recycle? Don't recycle plastic wrap, bags, pouches, cords, pouches or cords. They are considered "tanglers" because they get caught up in the sorting machines. Most all other plastic is acceptable.

Do not recycle lithium batteries, even the small ones in musical greeting cards. They start smoking which can ignite into fires. Don’t throw them out either; recycle at special sites and events.

Cartons for liquids like milk look like paper but don’t go in paper bins. Their metal or plastic linings suggest they go in the other bin.

Caps can get lost or stuck. Keep them on bottles if they’re made of similar material.

Note: The above was paraphrased from a Mar 7, 2022 New York Times article "Can You Recycle a Greasy Pizza Box?"


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