Because You Asked: Do I Have to Remove Labels Before Recycling?

Technology continues to make recycling easier and more convenient.
Sep 9, 2014 8:00 AM ET
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Do I Have to Remove Labels Before Recycling?

Posted on Recyclebank's Live Green Blog

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 glassplastic, 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.