Plastic Recycling Tips for Parties

Mixing Sustainability and Festivity
Friends at party holding red plastic cups.

Tips for Effective Plastic Recycling

Your party is a big hit. Everyone’s having a blast. One of your guests finishes off the ginger ale. He holds up the plastic bottle and politely asks: “Where do I toss this?”

What do you do?

You point him to the recycling bin that you thoughtfully set up… so he and all your guests can recycle more of your party plastic.

Party or no party, here’s a quick list of plastic recycling tips at home. 

Pro-tip: Put a simple list of recyclables by your bin so your guests don’t become “guesseds.”

Bottles and Jugs

Think: soft drinks, mixers, juice, liquor, salad dressing, condiments. Any plastic container with a mouth smaller than its body is a bottle… and a prime candidate for your recycling bin. Don’t forget to twist the plastic caps back on.

Male standing in store with plastic bottles.


For dips, sour cream, yogurt, peanut butter (or is that a jar? 🤔)… i.e., non-bottle vessels that contain stuff. Recycle them.

Reusable Plastic Delivery Containers

BTW: Those handy plastic delivery containers with the lids? Eminently reusable. Send leftovers home with your friends, store screws in your closet/garage… and then recycle them when no longer useful.

Little girl holding plastic soup container.

Speaking of lids…

Those bottles and containers typically come with plastic lids: a screw cap, a squirty top, a tight-fitting cover. Score an extra point by putting the lids back on the bottles/containers before tossing them in the bin. Recyclers want lids, too.

Plastic bottle with red cap.

Clear Clamshells

Think: premixed greens, clear berry boxes, takeout containers, ready-to-eat snacks from supermarkets sold in hinged containers (i.e., containers that open and close like a clam). Most communities accept clean clamshells (check with your local recycler).

Strawberries in plastic box in female hands.


Flexible plastic bags and wraps are recycled a bit differently. Instead of tossing them in your curbside bin (don’t!), you can deposit plastic bags and wraps in specially marked recycling bins at participating retail stores.

Plastic Film Recycling Bin

More info on recycling bags/wraps here.


Hmmm. Maybe. It depends on your local recycling program. Again, always check if you’re not sure. Avoid the temptation to toss something in the recycling bin and hope your recycler can process it. That’s called “wish-cycling.” And it makes recycling more difficult and expensive.

People with plastic cups at party

Closing the Recycling Loop

Seek Recycled

You’re an important part of the plastic recycling chain. You collect items for the recycling bin AND you can buy that plastic again when it’s made into new items. For party planning, there are multiple food and drink items sold in plastic bottles and containers made with recycled plastic. Just check the label and help close the recycling loop.

Woman holds plastic bottle and takes picture on cell phone.

Ultimate Tip: Check with Your Local Community Recycler

All recycling is local. Check online with your community recycler.