Recycling Recyclopedia

DNREC’s Recyclopedia: Quick advice about what to recycle

Betsy Price Government, Headlines

Recycling Recyclopedia

DNREC has relaunched its Recyclopedia, a guide to recycling in Delaware. Getty Images


If you recycle, you’re like to constantly confront questions:

  • Do I need to take the plastic ring off that milk carton?
  • Is recycling a potato chip bag OK?
  • Can I recycle my coffee cup from my favorite coffee shop?
  • Can I toss this pizza box into recycling?
  • Now that I’m done with this plastic teeth tray for Invisalign braces, can I recycle it?

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s newly revamped Recyclopedia can help.

DNREC relaunched it Tuesday to mark America Recycles Day.

The Recyclopedia site is designed to help people decide if something can be recycled and if so, how. Maybe you toss it into your home recyclables, or maybe you need to drop it off at a state collection site. Some things just have to be thrown away.

While the site can be useful, it’s obsessed with getting your address (which it says it does not keep).

It can take a few minutes to figure out how to navigate the site. That can force users to go through long lists of things that can or can’t be recycled until they scroll down the page and find the photos of 375 common items and advice about what to do with them.

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The entries are not always helpful.

For example, if you click on the plastic take-out container icon, the system just sends you back to the top of the page.

Using the Recyclopedia

One entry says the clear plastic clamshell containers are fine to recycle. Styrofoam food containers are not.

But everybody who got takeout in the last two years got food in a huge range of plastic containers clearly marked with the recycle symbol and a number, and there’s no advice about what to do with all of those.

The answers to the questions above:

  • You don’t have to take the plastic ring off a plastic or glass milk carton. Glass is usually crushed and separated so the plastic ring will be found. The little bit of plastic won’t hurt the recycling of a plastic jug. Delaware will allow you to recycle the carton’s cap, but other states do not.
  • Don’t recycle the potato chip bag. It’s usually not the right material.
  • Don’t recycle the paper coffee cup. Most are coated paper, which means they aren’t appropriate for home recycling. The button for clear plastic coffee cups that might be used for things like iced coffee just sends the reader back to the top of the list or repeats the advice for paper coffee cups.
  • You usually can’t recycle the whole pizza box. The bottom is usually soaked in grease, making it impossible to recycle. The top of the box can be, if it’s not also soaked in grease.
  • You cannot recycle Invisalign trays.

DNREC’s Recyclopedia information can be accessed by PC, tablet, cell phone, or other devices.

“One of our continuing challenges in improving the recycling rate in Delaware is the uncertainty about where, what and how to recycle,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin.

The state-specific Recyclopedia offers better guidance for Delawareans on what, how and where to recycle or to properly dispose of waste, he said.

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