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How to recycle used packaging: An easy & simple guide.

Last Updated: January 11, 2022

Following along for detailed instructions on how to recycle and dispose of your packaging responsibly from the Sustainability team here at Grove.

Recycling is far from a perfect solution—instead, it’s one that requires water, energy, and prevents plastic from ending up in landfills temporarily, as plastic can only be recycled 2–3 times at most.

This is why at Grove we’re setting a goal to be plastic free by 2025 because only 9% of plastic gets recycled, no matter how much you put in your recycling bin. Moving into reusable, refillable, and truly recyclable materials and packaging (that have a much longer life span) is the only path forward for the products we offer. Because clean hair shouldn’t require packaging that lasts 500 years, right?

Read on to learn more about how to recycle different types of packaging from plastic to glass to aluminum and paper so that your efforts actually make a difference.

Want to know 11 things you definitely can’t recycle? Read our guide on products you shouldn’t throw in the recycling bin.

Grove Tip

So, what do the plastic recycling numbers mean?

Remember that recycling is super local and depends on your waste and recycling provider. We’ve put together this guide—but the best thing to do is to search “Recycling guide + ZIPCODE” or go directly to your recycling provider’s website to learn what they can and cannot accept.

Here’s a quick rundown provided by our friends at of what the plastic recycling numbers actually mean (and if they can be recycled):

#1: This type of plastic is called polyethylene terephthalate (PETE or PET). This is usually the type of plastic used in water or soda bottles, salad dressing bottles, microwavable food trays, and other harder plastics. It can commonly be recycled (if plastic recycling is available in your community) and made into carpets, furniture, or new containers.

#2: This type of plastic is called high-density polyethylene (HDPE). It is typically found in cleaning or shampoo bottles as well as milk or yogurt containers. It can sometimes be recycled into floor tiles, detergent bottles, fencing materials, or even pens.

#3: This type of plastic is vinyl (V or PVC). It is typically found in mouthwash or cooking oil bottles and clear food packaging or clear containers. It is unlikely it will be recycled because it does contain toxins; however, it can be made into cables or paneling (things that won’t be used to eat off of, etc.).

#4: This type of plastic is low-density polyethylene (LDPE). It is found in carpet, furniture, clothing, and soft plastic bags used for bread or other foods. It could be recycled into envelopes, floor tiles, or trash can liners, but isn’t likely.

#5: This type of plastic is polypropylene (PP). It is found in ketchup and syrup bottles, medicine bottles, and plastic drinking straws. It may be recycled into brooms, ice scrapers, and rakes.

#6: This type of plastic is polystyrene (PS). It is typically found in disposable plastic cups, plates, and silverware, plastic egg cartons, and plastic take-out containers. It can sometimes be recycled into foam, insulation, rulers, or lightswitch plates.

#7: This type of plastic is anything categorized as other or miscellaneous. Water jugs, nylon, some food containers not categorized with a number above, and other miscellaneous items may be #7 plastics. This rarely get recycled and if they do they are turned into custom-made items by specialty companies.

5 quick steps to get all types of empty packaging ready for recycling

  1. Remove any sprayers or twist on caps (those go in the trash/landfill)
  2. Remove labels and tape
  3. Wash bottles or containers so that they have no contamination. If something will require tons of water to get clean, it might not be worth recycling.
  4. Check to see if the product is recyclable by looking up your local recycling center or municipality or call 1-800-CLEANUP for information on recycling in your state
  5. Check to see if the brand who made the product uses a takeback program like Terracycle

Helpful tips for recycling (almost) everything

Not everything is recyclable unfortunately (Remember that link above!), but what we can recycle actually needs a little TLC before it hits that recycling bin out front.

Here are a few tips to make sure your recycling gets to the plant (and not discarded to the landfill because you didn’t prep it correctly).

  1. In general, anything you are trying to recycle must be clean and uncontaminated. Give food and beverage containers a light rinse.
  2. Whether or not something is recyclable depends on your local recycling provider and what they will accept. This will be listed on their website!
  3. Do not throw anything in the recycling bin if you are unsure—this is called “wishcycling” and can create contamination issues at recycling facilities, actually preventing goods from getting recycled. Believe it or not, it’s better to throw something in the trash, especially any plastics that aren’t #1, 2, or 5, then it is to contaminate recyclables.
  4. For hard-to-recycle items like styrofoam, batteries, lightbulbs, household glass, etc., check if your local recycling provider has any special programs to take these. Your local hardware store often takes these items as well.
Image of a grove package

How to recycle cardboard and paper

Cardboard and paper packaging can be recycled 5–7 times before it becomes unusable. It is commonly recycled in most places in the U.S. so your local recycling supplier should take these items in your curbside bin. (Remember to double check on their website!)

Tips for recycling cardboard and paper so it’s clean

  1. It can’t be wet or contaminated with food (If it has food on it, you can try to compost it if your city offers curbside composting. Otherwise, it has to go in the trash/landfill.)
  2. For boxes: Remove the exterior tape (unless it’s eco tape) and labels which are plastic and can prevent the entire box from getting recycled. Throw those in the trash along with removing any labels.
Image of concentrate and glass spray bottle

How to recycle glass

Glass is amazing because it can be recycled an infinite amount of times, yay! However, not every recycling program in the U.S. recycles glass, so you’ll need to look up whether your curbside service takes it.

Tips for recycling glass so it’s clean

  1. Remove labels
  2. Clean out any remaining product
  3. Sort by color, if needed (Check your recycling service’s website)
  4. If packaging is smaller than your hand, it is unlikely to get recycled so check for local store take back or sign up for glass recycling with a company like Recyclops.
Image of aluminum soap bottle

How to recycle aluminum

Aluminum is also infinitely recyclable which is why we at Grove use it as packaging for a lot of our soaps and detergents.

It is also a commonly recycled item in the U.S. so most curbside pickup services should take it.

Tips for recycling aluminum

  1. Clean it out thoroughly before putting in the recycling bin
  2. Remove non-aluminum parts and labels
  3. Aluminum foil can be recycled in some locations—check your local municipality
Image of plastic bottle containers

How to recycle plastic packaging

Again, we prefer packaging in the forms above over any items in plastic because plastic is harder to recycle and can only be reused about 2–3 times before it ends up in the landfills anyways.

The most commonly recycled plastic in the U.S. is Plastic #1—(PET, plastic water bottles). However, we have some tips below on how to recycle this type of plastic and others so that some of it has the possibility to be reused.

Tips for recycling plastic

  1. Always remove labels and clean out the plastic packaging thoroughly
  2. The type of plastic that is most likely to be recycled are Plastics #1
  3. After that, Plastics #2 and #5 are somewhat recyclable, but very much depends on where location
  4. Plastics #3, #4, #6, and #7 should actually go in the trash in most locations as they are very unlikely to get recycled
  5. Plastic caps: Check your local municipality if they accept caps, some do!
  6. Plastic pumps, droppers, sprayers, and other closures are not recyclable and should be put in the landfill trash
  7. Flexible plastics, such as films or plastic bags are unlikely to be recycled. They can be dropped off in a store.
    • Some curbside recyclers’ have instructions for these flexible plastics, like putting them together in a plastic bag that is as large as a basketball because if you put them in a recycling bin loosely, they can contaminate and clog recycling machinery. Unfortunately, if you’re not sure if there are extra instructions for these types of plastics, it’s actually better to put them in the landfill.
  8. There are many plastics that look like they are recyclable, but they are made of plastic that is compostable (i.e., bioplastic). These types of plastics can actually contaminate the recycling streams, so be sure to check the packaging for any language about compostability and either compost or put into the trash if you aren’t sure.

Are you contributing to the plastic crisis?

Image of Peach deodorant boxes and refillable cases with text and arrows around them

Grove orders have removed 3.7 million pounds of plastic from waterways since January 2020.

U.S. companies make 76 million pounds of plastic every day, but only 9% of plastic is recycled. At Grove, we think it's time to stop making plastic. How are your shopping habits contributing to the Earth's plastic pollution?

Peach Not Plastic is removing plastic from personal care with innovative hair, face, and body care. Try it and help us continue to remove plastic from our oceans!

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