Questions About Plastic Recycling?

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Have you ever found yourself confused about which plastics are recyclable? You are not alone. In San José, many common plastic items are accepted in our curbside recycling program but unfortunately, not all plastics have viable markets to be reprocessed into new products.

The plastic section of our recycling guide on offers a comprehensive list detailing which items belong in the recycling and which belong in the garbage.

Here’s a quick reference guide for plastic recycling in San José:


  • PET #1 bottles and containers
  • HDPE #2 bottles and containers
  • #3-5, #7 bottles and containers
  • Durable plastic items such as laundry soap containers and large plastic jugs

Not Recyclable

  • Small, flimsy plastic that easily snaps, rips, or breaks apart. This includes: Plastic bags, plastic straws, plastic utensils, plastic wrap, plastic sandwich bags, plastic chip bags, candy wrappers, food and drink pouches, frozen food bags
  • Foam takeout containers, cups, egg cartons and meat trays
  • Cups, plates, bowls, and utensils labeled “compostable”

Along with other recyclable materials, all of San José’s plastics are collected, sorted and processed, sold on the worldwide commodities market, and eventually re-manufactured into new products or packaging. The market dictates what gets recycled in the end but here in San José we ensure our recycling collection vendor contracts do not allow program recyclables to be landfilled when the market fluctuates.

When you recycle right, you help reduce program costs, save time and effort, and help ensure that all our recyclables get recycled. When too many dirty items or too many of the wrong items, get into a recycling cart or bin there are increased costs to remove these items at the recycling facility.

Recycling clean is the best way to make sure accepted plastics get recycled. Bottles, jars, and other containers need to be empty of all food and liquid to be recycled. Empty and scrape plastic containers so they can be recycled, sold, and made into new products.

San José is committed to reducing plastic waste. The City enacted the Foam Food Container Ordinance and the Bring Your Own Bag Ordinance to encourage sustainable practices while also continuously promoting and educating San José residents on waste reduction and recycling best practices. Visit for more information and tips.

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