HomeThe CSWD BlogEventsWhich of these common event items can you recycle?

Which of these common event items can you recycle?

These are common items at events, but whether you’re at home, work, school, or an event, the same rules apply. Let’s check your recycling credentials. Which of these items can go in the recycling bin?

Napkin, straws, plastic fork, metal spoon, paper cup, styrofoam cup, and plastic cup on white background

  1. Straws
  2. Napkins
  3. Plastic utensils
  4. Metal utensils
  5. Paper or Styrofoam cups
  6. Plastic cups

How many did you choose? Let’s double-check your answers … 

  1. Straws: No.

    They don’t fit the size minimum. Sure, they’re long, but they have a tiny diameter. The minimum size for any type of recyclable is 2 inches on any 2 dimensions. Those straws can slip through the cracks in our recycling system and mix in with other materials. The solution: Just say NO to straws! Don’t accept them if they’re offered at an event or restaurant.

  2. Napkins: Nah.

    They usually have food or beverage residue on them, which makes them not recyclable. Materials move so quickly that we don’t have time to examine them to keep the clean ones. The solution: If it’s clean, use it! Or, if there is a food scrap collection container, compost it.

  3. Plastic utensils: Nope.

    They don’t fit the size limit (as discussed under “straws”) and plastic ones can be made from so many different types of plastic that we can’t readily identify which one and separate them. Metal ones don’t go in the recycling bin or dart. They could really do some damage if they got caught in the gears and conveyor belts of our system. The solution: Choose reusable metal utensils if offered, and give them back for washing when you’re done. If the event is using certified compostable plastic utensils and provides a separate container for collection, pop ’em in there.

  4. Paper or Styrofoam cups: Nuh-uh.

    Paper cups have a petroleum-based plastic liner to keep them from falling apart in your hands. That’s one no-no. The other is that beverage residue will be trapped in the crevices of the cup. We can’t recycle that. And nothing made of Styrofoam can be recycled in Chittenden County. The solution: Use reusables, of course, or recyclable plastic … or go compostable!

  5. Plastic cups: Yes…well, maybe!

    Plastic cups are usually recyclable—unless they have stuck-on food (we’re looking at you, strawberry smoothie). If it’s empty and free of residue, chuck it in the recycling bin! Otherwise, it belongs in the trash.

Need a refresher? Brush up on your blue bin recyclables.

Want more ideas for attending or throwing a waste-free event? We’ve got some good ones to share, plus tips, tools, and more.
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Jonny
Jonny
Marketing & Communications Manager at CSWD
Jonny joined CSWD in 2014 after several years abroad where he ran websites, film projects, classrooms, and half marathons. Originally from Virginia, he was drawn to Vermont's strong sense of community, apple cider, and the search for Champ.