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Aug 13

Sorting It Out

Posted on August 13, 2020 at 8:16 AM by Regina Sousa

Recycle where facilities exist, return to retail, eco-friendly, #7, #1, contains recycled content, recyclable, bio-based, chasing arrows with a number, chasing arrows without a number, 50% PCR, and what’s that little green leaf!?

Symbols and text on products and packaging can be confusing, especially when we’re trying to figure out how to properly recycle, compost, or dispose of something in the trash. Read on to learn how to sort it all out!

Know Your Program

Myth: It’s too hard to figure out how to recycle products or packaging
Fact: False. Ontario County has made it a priority to be a central resource for residents to find out what can and cannot go in your recycling bin at home. Visit to find an “accepted” and “not accepted” list for your home recycling bin to take out the guess work. On the website you can also find out what to do with items requiring special drop-off programs for recycling such as textiles, rechargeable batteries, plastic bags and films, electronics or items that may be household hazardous waste.

Labels and Instructions

Myth: The chasing arrows symbol means I can put it in my home recycling bin
Fact: False. The chasing arrows symbol does not necessarily mean an item is recyclable. This symbol can have various different meanings. It can mean the item has potential to be recycled, is made with recycled content, or can be recycled at special drop-off locations. To find out what types of materials are recyclable in our area please visit: Recycling At Home

Myth: Products and Packaging labeled “eco-friendly” or “green” can all be recycled
Fact: False. The terms “eco-friendly” and “green” are ambiguous terms. Just because an item is labeled as eco-friendly or green does not necessarily mean it can be recycled in your home recycling bin. Make sure it meets the criteria of a tub, jug, bottle, or lid before tossing in your recycling bin at home.

Myth: If an item is labeled compostable or bio-plastic it is OK to put in my home recycling bin 
Fact: False. Items labeled as compostable plastic or bio-plastics cannot go in your home recycling bin. They are different in composition than fossil fuel based plastics and should not be mixed with regular plastics.

Compostable plastics can sometimes be labeled with a #7 (other). Unless composted at an industrial composting facility, who accepts these items, these types of plastics must go in the trash. Industrial composting is a large scale composting facility that regularly reaches high temperatures required to degrade this material.

Tips to Sort Through It

  • Take the guesswork out- visit for a list of materials that are accepted and not accepted in your recycling bin at home
  • Save the acceptable and not acceptable list in your mobile device or hang a list on your fridge or other visible location so you can easily and quickly check it instead of guessing
  • Remember- if you ever have a question about how to recycle, properly dispose of other items, and upcoming special collection events, use the ‘Contact Us’ feature on the website!