In theory, plasticware should be recyclable, but there are challenges that make it unacceptable in our local curbside recycling. Not all plastics are created equal. In fact, different kinds of plastic have different characteristics and mixing them together would alter those characteristics. So, when recycling any kind of plastic, different types have to be separated for processing to be reused.
In a perfect world, all plastic utensils would be made from the same kind of plastic, but that’s simply not the case. Because of this, plasticware has to be separated.
Plastics can be separated by color, shape, density and other methods. Because most plastic utensils are identical in shape and size, it is very difficult to sort plasticware correctly. Shape causes other problems too. When plastic utensils end up at the recycling facility, they tend to either fall through or get stuck in the sorting machinery. This jams the equipment and causes costly delays at the plant.
Ideally, you would just use reusable forks, knives and spoons at home to completely avoid this problem. But let's assume you don't purchase plasticware, but get in in your curbside or take-out pickups. What can you do to keep that plastic from ending up in the landfill? When you place your curbside or delivery order request no utensils be included. If you still get plasticware anyway consider washing by hand and reusing or donating unused items to a local homeless shelter.
Does all this make you wonder what else you shouldn't be recycling? Use our Can I Recycle It? online search tool any time you're unsure about a particular item.
For more information on proper recycling visit Republic Services' Recycling Simplified.