Kitchen Items You Aren’t Recycling, But Should Be

Kitchen Items You Aren’t Recycling, But Should Be

There are plenty of things in your kitchen that you already know to recycle — like cans, plastic bottles, and cardboard.

But, chances are, there are also items in your kitchen you wouldn’t think were recyclable, but actually are! Instead of throwing them in the trash, you can recycle them — and do your part to reduce waste and maximize your kitchen’s recycling potential.

So, the question is, what are those unexpected recyclable items? And what steps do you need to take to recycle them?

Let’s take a look at four kitchen items you probably aren’t recycling (but definitely should be):

Canned Goods

If you use a ton of canned goods in your kitchen, don’t throw those cans away. That can of soup, canned beans, and other metal canned goods can go in directly in your recycling bin — where they’ll go directly towards conserving energy in future can production.

“Aluminum is one item that can be recycled an infinite number of times,” says Jeremy Walters, Sustainability Ambassador with Republic Services, the nation’s second-largest recycler and a leader in the environmental services industry. According to, making a can from recycled aluminum saves more than 90% of the energy required to make a new can.


Has your cookware seen better days — such better days, in fact, that it’s too damaged to donate? Not to worry, cookware is recyclable — but unlike other items that you can just toss in the recycling bin, with cookware, it takes a little more work. We’ve partnered with Earth911 to make recycling your old cookware simple. Head to to find a Recycling Center nearest you.

“If your old pots and pans are too damaged to donate, you’ll want to look for a local recycling option,” says Walters. “Most cookware is made from nonferrous metal (aluminum, copper and stainless steel) and can be recycled at a general scrap metal recycler—but not in your curbside recycling container.”

Kitchen Appliances

No one wants their blender to stop working in the middle of blending a smoothie. But if your blender (or other small appliance) does stop working, don’t throw it away in frustration — recycle it in frustration instead!

“Any appliances that are at least 50% metal are recyclable,” says Dr. Samantha Radford, environmental chemist, exposure scientist, and founder of Evidence-Based Mommy, a parenting resource that combines science and wellness. “That means items like old blenders, broken food processors, waffle irons can likely be recycled.”

Just make sure you’re recycling those appliances at the right place. “Small appliances like a microwave, blender, [or a] toaster all plug-in for power — and should be treated as electronic waste when being considered for recycling,” says Walters. That means you’ll need to bring faulty appliances to a Recycling Center that accepts electronic waste. Or, you can look into having your items picked up by your local city.

If you’re going to recycle a large appliance (like a fridge or dishwasher), you may need to do a bit more research on where to recycle. “While large appliances aren’t replaced very often, it’s crucial they end up in the right place,” says Walters. “Refrigerators, for instance, actually require special recycling because of the freon inside, so be sure to search for a reputable recycler when the time comes.”

Junk Drawer Items

Most kitchens have a junk drawer. And, chances are, your junk drawer is filled to the brim with items you can recycle — starting with all that junk mail, stray receipts, and other unnecessary paper that has been building up.

“Recycle things like envelopes, office paper, junk mail, unadorned greeting cards and newspaper inserts,” says Walters.

If there’s any unwanted metal items floating around your junk drawer (like old keychains or mismatched utensils), those can be recycled as well. “Scrap metal is really helpful to recycle,” says Radford. “Anything from broken tweezers to that ring of keys that doesn't go to any locks can be helpful.”

Just remember, if you're not sure where to recycle, Caraway and Earth911 are here to help! Check out to find out where you can recycle your old cookware, and don't forget to get a new Cookware Set on your way out.

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