What is curbside recyclability?

Recyclability is defined as something that has the capability of being recycled. We all know that recyclable products are important, as they can provide us with a way to reuse materials instead of disposing of them in a landfill. They also decrease our dependence on virgin materials and can help reduce the amount of energy needed to create a product. But just because a product is recyclable doesn’t mean it is curbside recyclable. Shipping mailers, for example, arrive at our homes in a wide variety of materials, sizes, and types. From poly mailers to paper padded mailers to compostable mailers, it is important to understand that even if the mailer is marked with a recyclable logo, that doesn’t always mean it can go in your curbside bin. 

Yes, many mailers can be recycled, if processed by the proper equipment at an appropriate recycling plant. But the mixed recycling plants that are typically used by most curbside pickup services cannot handle all types of recyclable materials. Some materials, such as plastic films, can damage recycling equipment at the plant and end up hurting more than helping. For example, poly mailers are recyclable, but they must be recycled at a location that is equipped for handling plastic films. 

What is the difference between curbside recyclables and non-curbside recyclables?

There is no standard across the country for what is curbside recyclable. In some areas, this will mean different things depending on the resources near you. The best way to know what can go in your curbside bin is to check with your waste management company. In some places, you may need to sort recyclables by material type.  

Often, people think that mixed recycling means that any recyclable product can go in. This is not true and putting the wrong items in the bin can cause more harm than good. Here is a list of items that are commonly accepted in mixed recycling curbside bins: 

  1. Paper and cardboard 
  2. Glass 
  3. Tin, steel, or aluminum 
  4. Rigid plastic bottles 
How do paper mailers compare to poly mailers?

Both types of mailers are recyclable, so what’s the big difference? One is curbside recyclable, and one is not. Poly mailers are made from plastic films. While plastic films are recyclable, they must be delivered to a special facility that handles them differently than other items. Many grocery stores have drop-off sites for plastic film recycling. Find one here 

Paper mailers, like the Ecojacket mailer, are made from all-natural paper products that can be placed in the curbside bin. This makes it much easier for consumers to recycle the mailer and feel good about purchasing from a company that makes it easy for them to do the right thing.  

With a little extra attention and care, we can all determine which products to recycle in the curbside bin and which to take to a specialty recycling drop-off location. As part of PAC’s commitment to sustainability, we work with How2Recycle to encourage our customers to label mailers with easy recycling instructions so consumers can feel good about knowing they are recycling their mailers correctly and helping to keep our planet healthy.