WM: Mailer madness: Where does it go? Home delivery edition

Knowing what packaging can be recycled is the first step in cutting down on home delivery waste.

  • Wednesday, March 15, 2023 1:30am
  • Life
Paper bags from food delivery should always be recycled, as long as they’re clean. You can also throw food-soiled paper bags in the compost.

Paper bags from food delivery should always be recycled, as long as they’re clean. You can also throw food-soiled paper bags in the compost.

By Karissa Miller / WM

Ding dong! Is it tonight’s dinner or that new office table you’ve been waiting for? Either way, home deliveries can be convenient. They can also result in a lot of garbage.

When your next order arrives, pay attention to the packaging. A cardboard box? Plastic pouch? Paper envelope with a bubble wrap liner? Different packaging options belong in different carts. Knowing what packaging can be recycled is the first step in cutting down on home delivery waste.

Cardboard boxes? Recycling. Always recycle your cardboard boxes! No need to remove the tape. Just be sure to flatten boxes and then close the lid on your recycle cart to keep everything dry. Yes, rain and snow can degrade cardboard to the degree that it can’t be recycled.

Bubble wrap? Garbage. Fun to pop, not fun to recycle. Unfortunately bubble wrap tangles around sorting equipment at the local recycling center. It goes in the garbage.

Plastic pouches and bags? Garbage. Like bubble wrap, these items should be kept out of the curbside recycling. As an alternative to the garbage, check with your local grocery store on recycling options.

Bubble mailers? Garbage. Because these types of envelopes are a combination of paper and bubble wrap, they should go into the garbage. Despite the paper on the outside, the plastic film on the inside makes them non-recyclable.

Paper envelopes? Recycling. If an envelope is made of paper without bubble wrap, it should be recycled.

Foam packaging? Garbage. Foam peanuts, blocks and to-go boxes are not accepted in the curbside recycling and should go in the garbage.

Pizza boxes? Compost. Home delivery pizza boxes are usually too dirty with food waste to recycle. Instead, they can still be turned into a soil amendment for healthy gardens through composting. Throw the plastic pizza saver in the garbage and place the box in your compost cart.

Paper bags? Recycling. Paper bags from food delivery should always be recycled, as long as they’re clean. You can also throw food-soiled paper bags in the compost.

The most sustainable option is to avoid unnecessary packaging and reuse materials when you can. Afterall, even recyclable products like cardboard boxes require resources to create the product in the first place.

We can save trees, water and other natural resources by considering these waste reduction alternatives:

Save and reuse packaging material like bubble wrap and foam blocks to protect items that you need to mail.

Before ordering online, stop by a local thrift store to check if they have what you need. You may find exactly what you’re looking for at a lower cost and without all the packaging.

Better yet, a neighbor may have what you need lying around their home. Check if your neighborhood has a Buy Nothing page on Facebook.

Avoid takeout containers altogether by asking restaurants if they can put to-go orders in your personal food storage container. If you’re dining at the restaurant, bring your own container for leftovers.

For more information on how to sort home delivery packaging, check out this video: youtube.com/watch?v=N-69TBEJtAM.

Karissa Miller is WM’s education and outreach manager. Find recycling and waste reduction tips at wmnorthwest.com.

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