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Because You Asked

Can I Recycle Yogurt Cups?

By Recyclebank |

You can still recycle or reuse plastic yogurt containers when local recycling programs are unavailable.


Dear Recyclebank,

Can I recycle yogurt cups?

-Jenni I., Long Beach, CA

 

Dear Jenni,

 

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.

Gimme 5
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.


SOURCES
Preserve Gimme 5 Program
Nation of Change
Earth911
The Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers

 

What are some of your ideas for recycling or reusing yogurt cups and number 5 plastic containers? Share them in the comments below.

Share with Your Friends & Family
  • Erica D. 2 years ago
    I just rinse and recycle them but I see some good ideas on this thread. :)
  • christine w. 2 years ago
    I use the hummus containers for leftovers or when giving food gifts at Christmas. Most have pretty lids and microwave/dishwasher safe. Hubby uses his yogurt cups to sort medicine tablets into larger groups for trips.
  • erica m. 2 years ago
    Good for pool or tub toys. On vacation you have the snack, then save the cup part for a temporary and not valuable toy that you can recycle at the end instead of bringing home.
  • Larry C. 2 years ago
    I use the 6 oz yogurt containers to grow my garden plants , tomatoes and peppers , every year. I drill holes in the bottom and fill with potting soil and place them in covered trays. I have been doing this for about 10 years and they can be cleaned and reused over and over again.
  • Barbara W. 4 years ago
    Large containers with tight fitting lids are perfect for short term freezer storage of home-made cookies. Medium size work to freeze mashed bananas with a little lemon juice for later banana bread baking, etc.
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