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Because You Asked

Do I Have to Remove Labels Before Recycling?

By Recyclebank |

Technology continues to make recycling easier and more convenient.

Dear Recyclebank,

Do I need to remove the labels from containers before I recycle them? I try to scrape off as much as I can before I put them in my recycling bin, but my son says not to bother.

Violet F.


Dear Violet,

Unless your waste hauler specifically directs you to do so, save yourself a bit of time and effort and skip the label scraping! Practically all of today’s recycling technology will make quick work of the labels. Applying high heat is an integral part of the recycling process for glass, plastic, and metal, and impurities — such as labels and glue — get burned away.

One reason to remove labels from recyclables is to recycle the label itself. Paper labels, such as those on soup cans, can go in the bin with your other paper recycling. Another reason to remove labels is if you’re reusing the container. After all, reusing a container is an even better option than recycling it because recycling requires resources to process materials.

Keep America Beautiful


Do you reuse containers or do you prefer to recycle them? Tell us in the comments below.

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  • Michael C. 14 days ago
    I remove the labels when I recycle the cans, so I can use the backs of the labels for notes, figuring on, using them to write the number of different seeds I collect from the veggies I buy at the grocery store. Then when I am done, the pieces of paper go into a bread bag, to be used in the grill, to start the fire going, instead of lighter fluid. Afterward, I can use the ashes in the garden, specifically where the tomatoes and peppers go.
  • joanna l. 15 days ago
    If you can take clean paper from a container (like a can) its a great way to up your recycle game...but a lot of labels are plastic or they are contaminated because of food stains or adhesive, those ones are best left on the container
  • Joseph D. 15 days ago
    Makes less than no sense. Why burn the paper label off when you could recycle it separately?
  • bunni r. 16 days ago
    Where can I get the 1950's beans in the photo?
  • Donna D. 16 days ago
    Friday September 3, 2021
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