View All Posts

Aug 11

Black Plastic

Posted on August 11, 2022 at 9:33 AM by Kaitlynn McCumiskey


Description automatically generated with medium confidenceIn general, black plastic cannot be recycled, yet 63% of Americans believe that it can be. Although sometimes labeled with a recycling symbol, or even the numbers “1” and “2”, black plastic is generally not recycled in New York State.

Here’s why:

1.            Black plastics blend in with conveyor belts and do not reflect light which means that they cannot be identified and sorted by the optical scanners used at recycling facilities.

2.            There is currently no market for recycled black plastic. Black plastic cannot be recycled into any other color plastic which decreases its value as a material.

Not only is black plastic tricky to recycle but it can also be a threat to our health. A great deal of black plastic is manufactured using electronic waste or e-waste. E-waste often contains toxic elements such as bromine, chromium, and lead. This can be troubling for humans especially if e-waste is being recycled into items that we come into close contact with, such as single-use food packaging, like to-go containers and coffee cup lids. The next time you come across black plastic, consider how you can avoid it.


Where we see black plastic:



What we can use instead:


Drink Stirrers

Wooden Stirrers, Metal Spoon


Reusable Utensils 

Coffee Cup Lids

Reusable Mug


Bamboo Hairbrush

Coffee Pods

Reusable Coffee Pods

Plant Pots

Glass or Ceramic plant pots

Clothing Hangers

Wooden Hangers 


Adapted from @RecycleRightNY resources.