5 Common Recycling Myths, Debunked

November 9, 2022

The holidays are a time for gift-giving and merry-making, but with all that celebration comes quite a bit of excess waste. From plastic packaging from gifted toys to crumpled wrapping paper after a morning of opening presents, you may be left with more than a few things that leave you wondering, How on earth do I recycle all this stuff? 

In honor of National Recycling Day on November 15 (and living sustainably every day), we spoke to the folks at Kettle & Fire for tips on how to recycle their Tetra Pak broth cartons, which are made of mainly from paperboard (as well as small amounts of plastic and aluminum). These cartons are recyclable in most areas just like glass, plastic, or paper—and Kettle & Fire wants to make sure  people know exactly how to do it. 

Read on to debunk some of the most common recycling myths, just in time to  clean up after all those holiday gatherings. 

5 Common Recycling Myths, Debunked

Myth 1: You can recycle the same materials everywhere.

Some materials, like glass or plastic bags, aren’t accepted at all recycling facilities. Check the regulations in your area before tossing things in the recycling bin.

Myth 2: You should remove the caps from cartons before recycling.

When recycling things like plastic bottles or Tetra Pak cartons, you should leave the plastic cap on when you toss them in the bin.

Myth 3: You should crush or flatten your cartons before recycling.

According to the folks at Tetra Pak, you should never crush, flatten, tear, or unfold their cartons before recycling them in the US or Canada. Instead, empty any remaining product and leave them intact with the cap still on to ensure that they don’t get separated out of the recycling bin.  

Myth 4: You can recycle plastic bags in the same way as other plastics.

This one is tricky; while plastic shopping bags are technically recyclable, you likely can’t just toss them into the bin like you would with more rigid plastics. In most areas, you’ll need to take your plastic grocery bags and film coverings to a drop-off facility.

Myth 5: Recycling is the best way to reduce plastic waste.

The very best way to cut down on plastic waste is by simply reducing the amount of plastic you use in the first place. While recycling is a great option for existing plastic, a great deal of plastic is not recycled for one reason or another, so it’s always better to use reusable containers (or no container at all!)

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Amy Roberts

Amy Roberts is Thrive Market's Senior Editorial Writer. She is based in Los Angeles via Pittsburgh, PA.

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