Can I recycle yogurt cups?
-Jenni I., Long Beach, CA
Yogurt cups are usually made of polypropylene, also known as number 5 plastic (PP). They are recyclable, but how convenient it is to recycle them depends on where you live.
Number 5 plastic is the third most recycled type of plastic, behind numbers 1 (PET) and 2 (HDPE), but most communities don’t do curbside pickup for number 5 containers. While the number of curbside recycling programs that accept number 5 plastics is slowly increasing, finding a place that will readily accept them can still be challenging.
First, confirm whether or not your community accepts number 5 plastic. If it doesn’t, below are a couple of options to help keep your yogurt cups (and other containers marked with number 5, like hummus tubs) out of landfills.
Preserve’s Gimme 5 Program allows anyone to drop off their yogurt cups and other number 5 plastic containers to their local Whole Foods store to recycle for free. Not near a Whole Foods? You can also mail in your number 5 plastics directly to Preserve. The company recycles them into new products like toothbrushes and kitchen utensils. And as a Recyclebank partner, every time you recycle your yogurt cups and containers, you can earn Recyclebank points! If you’re mailing recyclables in, minimize the impact as much as possible by sending a bunch all at once and by reusing a shipping box.
Reuse or Upcycle
You can reuse or upcycle your yogurt containers around the house and kitchen for storage, leftovers, and molds for ice pops. The larger containers work great as airtight storage for dry goods like beans, rice, flour, and ground coffee. Or for craft projects, you can use smaller cups as seed starting containers, for holding water colors and paints, or even as stackable toys for babies.
Until number 5 plastics are more widely accepted by municipal recycling programs, we can do our part by buying products with the least amount of packaging and reusing what we can. You can also let your favorite yogurt brands know that you prefer clearly marked recyclable packaging and a take-back program if you can’t recycle it locally.