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Your Recycling Questions Answered: Part Two

Your Recycling Questions Answered: Part Two

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Oftentimes when recyclables are thrown away dirty or not properly sorted, they end up in landfills along with the rest of NYC’s trash. In landfills, the recyclables that do break down release harmful greenhouse gasses. The ones that don’t break down—including plastics—can contaminate soil and waterways, contributing to public health concerns.

Madison Square Park Conservancy is committed to reducing the impact of the waste collected both in our park and beyond. A few weeks back, we responded to some common questions about recycling to help make the process easier to understand. Today, with the help of experts at the Department of Sanitation and environmental non-profit GrowNYC, we’re continuing to answer your recycling questions and provide helpful tips to make your recycling efforts as effective as possible.


Which bin do milk cartons go in? 

The Department of Sanitation provides residential buildings with dual stream recycling. Metal, plastic, glass and cartons like the containers your juice or almond milk come in should be sorted into the blue bin while paper and cardboard should be sorted into the green bin. 

While cartons feel similar to cardboard, most contain a thin layer of plastic to stop liquids from leaking. This means they should be treated as plastics rather than paper or cardboard products.


How do I know what kinds of plastic I can recycle? 

Not all plastic is created equally, and some types cannot be recycled in New York City. Check out this list from the Department of Sanitation for accepted items. Some items that can typically be recycled include:

  • Plastic bottles, jugs, and jars
  • Rigid plastic caps and lids
  • Rigid plastic food containers (yogurt, deli, hummus, dairy tubs, cookie tray inserts, “clamshell” containers, other rigid plastic takeout containers)
  • Rigid plastic non-food containers (such as “blister-pack” and “clamshell” consumer packaging, acetate boxes)
  • Rigid plastic housewares (flower pots, mixing bowls, plastic appliances, etc.)
  • Bulk rigid plastic (crates, buckets, pails, furniture, large toys, large appliances, etc.)


Can I recycle plastic bags?

In New York City, 7.5% of our waste stream is made up of plastic film, like plastic grocery bags, candy wrappers or plastic packaging

Unfortunately, only rigid plastic is accepted for recycling. As a general rule, if you can crumple it in your hand, it needs to go in the trash.

There are locations around the city that will collect and recycle plastic bags and film-like plastics. Visit this link to find a location in your neighborhood.


Recycling is important, and is made easy thanks to the work of City agencies. We hope you think of these quick hints when sorting your waste, and feel free to reach out with additional recycling questions. 

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