Where to Recycle Plastics
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Where to Recycle Plastics
We're trying to simplify and detoxify our world by eliminating
many of our plastic products - tupperware, plastic toys, etc.
We're got many, many items that are in perfectly good
condition, but our personal choice is to move towards less
plastic. On one hand it seems wrong to simply toss these
things into a recylcling bin, but on the other hand it seems
wrong to donate these item to someone else if our motivation
is that we believe the chemicals in plastics are harmful to our
Personally, my vote would be for passing things that are still useful on to
someone who wants/needs them, rather than putting them in the landfill or
using up energy and carbon fuels to transport and recycle them. Many
plastics, especially the kinds used for toys, tupperware, etc. are not
recycled by our local waste management companies. (See the ''What can I
recycle curbside?'' link for your city at www.stopwaste.org.) Also, by
letting someone use your things that are already manufactured, you will be
saving the petroleum and energy needed to produce new plastic things (since
not everyone will stop buying them like you have), helping you enjoy a
cleaner environment outside your home as well as inside. And although it's
great that you're choosing to eliminate these things from your life, many
people have not made (or cannot afford to make) the same decision, and they
would be happy to get more life out of your castoffs. For an enlightening
read, see the Ecology Center's
''7 Misconceptions About Plastic & Plastic Recycling'' at
Better to Reuse Than to Recycle
I totally feel your pain as far as wanting to eliminate plastic. I commend
you for the commitment moving forward. As far as ridding your house of
plastics, though, I would look at it a different way. Many people have not
made the decision to lead plastic free lives. So just recycling usable
plastics or tossing them is wasteful. Those people who do still choose
plastic will go buy new items if they don't find used ones, and that is
definitely more wasteful and contaminating than reusing an already produced
item. I suggest you check out your local Freecycle network, it's a great
way to share resources with the community. www.freecycle.org
This isn't exactly an answer to your ethical dilemma, but the Oregon
Environmental Council (http://tinyurl.com/2hoogk) has some good information
on both recyclability and toxicity of different plastics. Unfortunately,
most of your plastics are not readily recyclable, but fortunately some of
them are probably not as dangerous as you fear. Our choice has been to
reduce our plastic use and to try to replace plastic with other materials
as our current stuff wears out.
Yes, please donate them for free to some other family or preschool or day
care, etc. As a general overview, the order of the pharase is ''reduce,
re-use, recycle'' as that is the best order to do things in. First, buy
less (and less will be produced). If you can't buy less, then re-use. If
you can't re-use, then recycle. If you can't recycle, then dispose of
responsibly so it doesn't litter or contaminate our environment (beyond the
landfill). That means putting a given item either in the trash or bringing
it to a household hazardous waste facility.
Look at your plastics and see which ones are in good enough shape to pass
on to others. Ask one or more families/places if they would like the
plastic goods. These families/places would likely buy them new at the
store anyway, so you are saving someone/someplace in the community money,
and you are keeping the plastic items out of the waste stream longer, and
reducing the consumer demand or new plastic items. These things are all
good!... or at least better than the alternatives.
If some of your stuff is not in good enough shape to be re-used by others,
then by all means, find a responsible way to recycle them, and if you can't
recycle it, then disposeof it in a way that they will end up in the
landfill instead of floating in the bay.
For me, I find that it is best to let other families/places decide on their
own how they approach the use of plastics and other env./health issues.
Your giving or not giving a family/place plastics is not likely to effect
whether or not they use plastics (just whether or not they re-use yours).
Chances are few if any of these items are ''recyclable'' and would end up
in landfill if you put them in said bin. You could see if a place like
East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse would want
I just discovered that the El Cerrito recycling center now accepts many
kinds of plastic, including CD's, hard CD cases, all kinds of plastic bags
and films, wide-mouth containers (all those plastic plant pots and yogurt
cups!), as well as all numbered jars. It's conveniently located at the
east end of Schmidt (one block north of Moeser).
I get a daily newspaper delivered and, even when it's not rainy, it usually comes in a
plastic bag. I can't bear to throw out the bags but I'm drowning in them! They served
well for cleaning up after a dog but, alas, no more dog. What can be done with them?
Please send me your alternatives to tossing in the landfill. Thanks!
I believe you can recycle plastic newspaper bags in the collection bins at
Albertsons, Safeway, etc. along with your plastic shopping bags -- I hope
that's still true, because that's what I've been doing with them. I think
they take dry- cleaning bags there as well.
Andronico's stores (at least the University Ave. - Berkeley -
one) have a barrel where you can put all kinds of plastic bags for
You can call the newspaper and opt-out of bags on dry days.
Also, the El Cerrito recycling center accepts plastic newspaper and
-- good to know
The Berkeley Humane Society is always looking for doggie bags and are
happy to take your newspaper bags. Great way to reuse the bags and help
them out as well!
I have a huge collection of empty 4'' pots, 6-packs, 1-gallon
pots, 2- and 5-gallon pots, flats, and seeding trays from plants
I've bought or seeded over the years. Where can I take these so
they will be used again? Is there some place that is hankering
for these things? Or can they be recycled?
Berkeley Horticultural Nursery will take one gallon pots and up.
Spiral Gardens on Sacramento may be able to use others.
Some local nurseries will accept emtpy planting containers for
recycling - you might want to contact them
I'd recommend that you post an ad in the free section of
craigslist.org. I accumulate a lot of pots from landscaping jobs
and have always easily gotten rid of them this way!
Berkeley Horticultural Nursery will take them. Check them out at
As I found out on the Parents Network a year or so ago,
Berkeley Horticulture (across from Monterrey Market) will
recycle plastic pots as well as those plastic trays you
sometimes get at nurseries. You can just drop it all off
outside the back gate. I don't remember the exact street names
so you can call them for directions. Basically, if you're
standing with your back to Monterrey Market, facing the back of
Berkeley Hort, the back gate is at the corner to your right.
I've taken many many plant containers over to Spiral Gardens on Sacramento in
Berkeley. They reuse them for potting the plants that they grow and sell as part of
their mission. You can read more about them here:
We go through a good number of plastic containers each month for
yogurt, sour cream, etc. Berkeley's recycling program does not
accept them and, according to the Ecology Center, many cities
that do accept them are not actually recycling them.
Is there a school, daycare, etc. around Berkeley that would be
able to use these for projects and would accept them on an
occasional but continuing basis? Most are 32 fluid oz. but others
are smaller or larger. All have lids.
The julia Morgan Center for the Arts can use those yougurt
containers. They come in handy for holding small amounts of
paint, water for watercolors, glue and separating collage
materials. You can drop them by the theater Monday-Friday from
9:30am-5:30pm (2640 College Ave. between Derby and Parker in
Berkeley). Also, you might contact MOCHA or the
East Bay Depot
for Creative ReUse to see if they will accept the containers.
Some yogurt brands do use recyclable containers--I buy Nancy's
and the tubs are marked type 1 plastic(1 and 2 are generally
recyclable, higher numbers not, most brands use type 5). For
other brands, the lids are recyclable but the container isn't. So
in addition to finding a home for your current stash of
containers, you could look into changing brands. I don't know
which other brands use recyclable plastic, but some of the other
natural/organic brands might.
Another yogurt eater
Since moving to Berkeley I cringe every week when the Ecology
Center picks up our recycling and leaves the yogurt containers
behind (I keep puting them out there in hopes that they start
I've started only buying 1 big one a week because I can't stand
to see all the ''little' ones pile up in my trash, but they are
still piling! Cottage cheese, grated parm, olives etc...
Does anyone out there know of a place I can take these Pete 5
(and Pete 1 I think) so they can be recycled? We can only
think of so many art projects to use these for.
drowning in plastic
I have taken wierd # plastics to West County Resource Recovery*
101 Pittsburg Avenue 510-412-4500. It is a little ways off the
580 right before the San Rafael Bridge. They will only pay for
CRV plastics, but will accept wierd # plastics if you just want
to drop them off. Call first though!
My son's preschool loves getting these things - for projects,
etc. His school is in Oakland, but I'm sure a closer preschool
would feel the same. Give some a shout and see what you find!
Signed, kids love trash
I also feel awful about the number of quart-size yogurt
containers we go through. I take them to the
East Bay Depot for
Creative Reuse. They're happy to take
them as long as I bring the lids, too. Someone more creative
than I obviously has a use for them!
Reuse as many as you can. I find the small ones useful for my
elementary school age kids' lunches, and storing leftovers, and
I hardly ever use plastic bags. The rest -- try the
Creative Reuse. I think that's the name. Seems like they take
all sorts of things like that. You could also try preschools.
Also, please let Ecology Center know your predicament -- they
may have a suggestion, but also they should need to hear
recycling desires -- hopefully they are trying to find a viable
Your concerns are mine too
Not sure if this is helpful or not... but I've recently started
buying Spega yogurt at Trader Joe's, which comes in little glass
containers. It's a bit more expensive than some -- I think about
$2.50 for two small jars... but it's really good - and I love
being able to recycle the containers.
I think a lot of schools and non-profits which do art with
children might want to use them, you could periodically list
them on this newsletter for free and see. Sorry I don't have the
recycle info for you but I do think there is a recycling hotline
listed somewhere in the phone book.
We too have been disappointed that yogurt containers aren't accepted
by Berkeley recycling. We donate our clean containers to the
Depot for Creative ReUse or re-use them
(giving food away to friends/family).
also drowning in plastic
Apparently these are difficult to recycle, and there is little
A recommendation from a former employee of the Ecology Center is to
make your own yogurt. Apparently it is easier that you think. I haven't
tried it myself, but remember that my mom had a yogurt maker some
The Ecology Center, which contracts with the City of Berkeley to
do the recycling in our city, has an explanation of why it doesn't accept
these. There are many other types of plastic containers they
don't pick up too. See their website http://www.ecologycenter.org
Unlike other communities, Berkeley picks up only the plastics that
are "easily recycled" (1 and 2, but not all 1 and 2). Apparently the
reason is that they don't want us to be "mislead" about the (non)ease of
recycling plastics, which might encourage us all to buy more and more
While the Ecology Center website contains a lot of information about how
irresponsible the plastics industry is, there is surprisingly little
information about whether these things really are recyclable, and
what to do with them if they aren't. If I follow the link on their
website for "suggestions on what to do with unrecyclable plastics"
I'm told why plastic is bad and why I shouldn't buy it. The solution,
they say, is to
contact manufacturers, and ask them to put their product in more easily
recyclable containers! OK, will do! as soon as I get home from work today
and make dinner for my kids and do a couple of loads of laundry!!!
Sure, and I'll make the yogurt from scratch, too! Plenty of time for all those things,
right? Do these guys have jobs and kids? There's some kind of disconnect here.
As far as I can tell, the problem is not that yogurt containers can't
be recycled - other communities do recycle them. The problem seems
to be that they are not as profitably recycled as other stuff like bottles
The implication that they can't be recycled and there is nothing
we can do short of not buying them is a bit misleading on the part
of the Ecology Center. As I recall, until very recently, Ecology Center
also refused to pick up any
plastics at all, including the ever-popular and recyclable plastic
milk jugs. If memory serves, the reason given was that picking them
up at curbside would make it too easy for people to continue using
plastic, thus supposedly encouraging more people to use more plastic. Of course
not picking them up encouraged people to throw them into the trash.
Only after the City insisted did the Ecology Center start curbside plastic pick-up.
I have the feeling that the current plastic policy is a follow-on
to the previous one - not based on practicality but rather on
financial and political concerns.
Come on Ecology Center, we do want to recycle, but we need practical
advice, not lectures! Help us out here!
Despite my efforts to reuse plastic bags when grocery shopping
and walking the dog, the damned things still accumulate. (I
leave some at the local farmers' market, but it's frequently
overstocked as well.) Is there any place in the East Bay,
preferably Berkeley, to recycle plastic produce and shopping
i live in rockridge, and i go to one of three stores for bag recycling: Safeway @ 51st
and Broadway, Village Market @ Braodway Terrace and Clarewood, and the
Albertson's in Montclair. At the Safeway i pull up and park in the red zone with my
hazard lights on, and the recycling bag is just inside the door on the right. The
Albertson's is an evening trip as its customer only parking during the day, and they
tend to move their bag around.
Almost every supermarket (Safeway, Andronic's) has a collection
bin outside for used plastic bags (clean, dry; some say ''light
colored''). Of course, I have no idea if/where they really
I know that the Safeway in Albany (mid-Solano Ave.) has a trash
can outside--to the left of the front doors---that is
specifically for recycling those pesky trash bags. Hope that
I look for bins to recycle plastic bags in grocery stores.
I've seen them near the entrances at Berkeley Bowl and
Safeway. Happy recycling.
You can bring them to Point Isabelle, an off leash dog park and
put them by the other plastic bag posts.
POint Isabelle is below Costco.If you keep going past Costco (as
if you were going to the Costco gas station) you will get to
My Albertson's store has a bin outside where they collect and
recycle plastic grocery bags, produce bags, newspaper bags and
dry cleaning bags. I think most if not all Albertson's and
Most supermarkets have a bag recycling bag/barrel near one of
the doors. (E.g. Berkeley Bowl has one inside near the phone at
the right front door, Andronico's on Solano has one outside
near the phone on the parking lot door, Safeway on Shattuck has
one outside near the right door, Albertson's in El Cerrito
Plaza has one inside near the middle exit.) You can simply
bunch up the old bags inside each other, and they don't need to
be reusable, just reasonably clean.
I even heard of folks who walk dogs/animal shelters being happy
about receiving old bags.
Better yet, of course, is reusing your own old bags or reducing
your need for plastic altogether by bringing canvas bags...
Tree-hugging grocery shopper too
Most major grocery stores have collection bins: Berkeley Bowl,
You could try leaving them at the dog park for others to use.
Also I think that there are bins for recycling plastic bags
outside the Safeway on College and Claremont.
Haven't you heard that they are threatening to start charging
$0.17 per bag in order to decrease waste? You might want to keep
those plastic bags for the time being. Otherwise, I think all
grocery stores have a bin for recycling plastic bags; just ask
them where it is.
Most grocery stores have bag recycling. I know this can be a
hassle, but have you tried taking them back and reusing them for
another grocery run? Also, check with your local recycling
company, but ours can go right in our bin with the rest of the
I use to run into this problem as well. We use to always send our plastic bags
over to Safeway, but then they stopped accepting them. We got so tired of the
accumulation of bags, plastic and paper, that we decided to invest in good
canvas bags to take with us everytime we go shopping. What a great decision
that was. Canvas bags are so superior to plastic or paper bags. Not only do
they last for many years, but they are so much stronger. And they hold more.
You don't ever have to worry about the bag ripping. Now we have finally solved
our accumulation problem in that category. The only trick is to remember to
take them with you before you leave the house. The best place to store them is
in your car. We have a routine of hanging them on the handle of the front door
so we can remember to grab them on our way out to the car.
Canvas shopping bag lover
Grocery stores (like Safeway) often have bins out front where
you can recycle plastic grocery store bags. Also, some stores
(like Whole Foods) give you a nickel rebate if you bring your
own bag to re-use. That way you won't keep accumulating more
bags, and save some money at the same time.
Safeway on Solano has a bin outside the entrance for recycling
I find myself staring at an enormous bag full of non-recyclable
plastic containers from Trader Joe's. It seems like more and
more of their products are getting packaged this way (#5s and
not #1 & #2). I'm considering the idea of organizing some kind
of protest for which people would hold onto all these plastics
and then bring them to TJs on a particular day to ask them to
use #1/#2 plastic. That way it isn't just one cranky customer
venting but a more organized show of the sickening volume of
this stuff. Obviously I could stop buying some of the products
packaged this way (which I've done a little) but I doubt that
they really feel the impact of my action. Any thoughts?
buried in plastic
Sounds great! I wish more of their produce was less pre-packed,
too. I don't have any specific ideas, but if you want to stage a
protest, or a letter-writing campaign, let us know through
You should check with your recycling provider as all plastics
that are numbered can actually be recycled, if they don't
accept them now, maybe you can start bugging them to. In
Alameda they accept numbers 1-7.
Actually it's the Ecology Center you should be bugging, not
Trader Joe's, assuming you live in Berkeley, that is. Other
cities do recycle these plastics. The Ecology Center, which has
the recycling contract with the City of Berkeley, is picky about
which plastics it will accept. The plastics you are talking
about are recyclable, just not as profitably as other plastics.
The Ecology Center has the theory that if they don't accept the
plastics that are not as easy to recycle, then this will
discourage people from using them. Of course the reality is,
the plastics that they don't accept, go into landfill. The only
way to change this, realistically, is to let the City know we
want the Ecology Center to recycle all plastics, not just some
My question is about recycling plastics with numbers 2 and up. It seems
that some of the most healthful foods our household enjoys are packaged in
#5. I came up empty trying to find info on the Net about places to recycle
these higher numbered plastics.
Does anyone have info on this? Eric
San Leandro has curbside recycling of all plastic *bottles* (neck smaller
than the body) of *any* type. Unfortunately, they don't take even #1
plastic cups, such as yogurt containers. I have occasionally struck a deal
with a friend of mine here in Berkeley, where I'll save my yogurt etc
containers and pass them on to her to recycle at the Berkeley Flatlands
recycle center (corner of Dwight and MLK), and she'll send me all her
non-#1 or #2 bottles. Doesn't catch everything, but it does help! And I'm
not sure, but I think it's possible to deliver your plastic bottles
directly to the San Leandro Dump for recycling. I'd call the City of San
Leandro to enquire about it (number should be in your phone book under the
government listings). Dawn
1) regarding the Berkeley recycle place on Dwight and MLK, when I took
my bags and bags of yogurt containers there several months ago, they
said they couldn't take them because a warehouse burned down somewhere
or a road got blocked or something and they didn't know when they could
take #1 and 2 plastics that did NOT have a narrow neck (they can still
take milk jugs, shampoo bottles, soda bottles, etc.). Whatever the
problem was, it was still a problem last week.
2) a few years ago I got really disgusted at all the plastic I couldn't
avoid buying and looked in the yellow pages and also called some hotline
and finally found a place in Oakland that would take ANY plastic from 1
to infinity. I think it might have been Smurfit. I have since given in
and I just throw it away now.
3) As I understand it, Berkeley does not have a curbside recycling
program for plastics because plastics are so bad one is not supposed to
buy them in the first place. I don't find this to be exceptionally
Re: plastics recycling - the old Urban Ore lot on 2nd at Gilman is a
big big recycling center which has a number of plastics recycling bins -
all labeled for which number. They also limit their take to only
specific numbers, but I find that about 2/3 of the plastic containers we
use qualify for the bins. And it's not as busy as the lot on MLK, which
makes drop-off a lot easier. jean
this page was last updated: Apr 24, 2009
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