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Because You Asked

Because You Asked: Can Foil Yogurt Lids Be Recycled?

By Recyclebank |
You certainly should recycle aluminum, but do foil lids work in your MRF’s process? Here are some things to know before putting them in the recycling.

Dear Recyclebank: Can you recycle aluminum yogurt caps? –Diane H.

Dear Diane: Aluminum is incredibly well suited to being recycled, and given that doing so saves 92% of the energy it would require to create new products from virgin aluminum ore, it’s absolutely worth the effort. However, as with other materials, the form it comes in can affect a recycling handler’s ability to process it. Because foil is so frequently contaminated by food, not all facilities will accept it. It’s also thin and flexible, which can cause problems with certain recycling machinery. Check your city’s restrictions before you add your foil to the recycling pile.

All that said, the foil lids on yogurt are subject to the same recycling restrictions as other aluminum foil, provided they haven’t been lined or coated with any other materials. As with anything you put in your recycling, these foil lids must be thoroughly rinsed and cleaned of food waste. Traces of that delicious Greek yogurt spell bad news for a batch of recycling. Also consider saving your lids and crumpling them together into a ball: This will help ensure they don’t get caught in machinery or oxidize immediately during the recycling process.

If your area doesn’t recycle foil, or if you’re just concerned about excess waste, try buying your yogurt in larger plastic tubs. You can portion out your servings in bowls or reusable containers such as Tupperware. Buying in bulk for things you use often helps reduce waste, and there’s a good chance you’ll save money doing it. Plus, using up fewer individual containers (and therefore resources) is a better bet for the environment. Once you’ve finished all of the yogurt from a larger tub, both it and its lid might also be able to be recycled. Either way, the fewer individual containers you purchase, the better.

SOURCES: The Aluminum Association, The Charlotte Observer, Ecotrope

Does your city accept aluminum foil for recycling? Let us know in the comments.
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  • Abigail B. 4 days ago
    I make sure labels and all food or contaminates are out of the recycled items as well i have 3 recyle bins cardboard glass and plastic :-)
  • Tom H. 4 days ago
    IT sure seems like the tiny bit of environemntal savings from buying the larger ones, then portioning it out into containers that have to be washed afterward is offset BY the extra washing.
    • Linda F. 3 days ago
      When you say the tiny bit of environmental savings (meaning buying larger containers of yogurt rather than the small individual cups), are you just speaking of one person's savings (or one family)? Maybe if you consider all of the people who eat yogurt, which I know is a large number, the savings wouldn't be just a tiny bit anymore?
  • Mellissa H. 7 days ago
    Wow!! Great Idea!!!!!
  • Angel V. 8 days ago
    I love recycling and want to get my kids more involved with it.
  • Angela T. 8 days ago
    I never knew these could be recycled
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