I deliberately avoid cutting off or tearing off parts of packaging which I intend to recycle as in my mind I would imagine that this makes the recycling process easier. But does it actually? Is there any benefit to keeping packaging whole for the purpose of recycling, or is it fine to let parts break off as long as I put those in the recycling too?

1 Answer 1


Yes, it matters

You should avoid cutting or shredding plastics before sending them to recycling.

It depends on the recycling center as to how exactly your plastics are handled, but MOST modern plastic recycling involves a sorting phase, where different types of plastic are sorted based on the type of plastic, usually denoted by numbers/symbols on the container.

Cutting or Shredding containers before they hit the center makes that process harder/impossible, and thus a lot of these mixed/unknown plastics are usually sent to landfill/burned, or end up contaminating the stock of plastics that are sorted by type.

Additionally - not every recycling center is equipped to deal with every type of plastic. It's best to check with the recycling center that services your area - most have a website or a help/contact service to check what types of plastic are accepted. You might be able to take other types of plastic to a different center (e.g. builder's tips may accept/handle PVC (Type 3) plastic when your general recycling facility does not).

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