Which Bin Does it Go In?

Let’s throw out some of the most commonly missorted items of trash, compost, and recycling, and in which bin they belong.

Pizza Boxes

Surprise! A used pizza box should go in the compost, as the grease has rendered it contaminated.

Plastic Bags

They’re trouble for recycling facilities and they’re banned, anyway, so you really ought to avoid using plastic bags.

Paper Bags

The paper may seem compostable, but these bags are better off as recycling.

Egg Cartons

Paper or plastic egg cartons can go in the recycling bin, but Styrofoam or polystyrene cartons are straight trash.

Condiment Packets

Ketchup and soy sauce packs are contaminated by food, and go in your black landfill bin.

Juice Boxes

The box can be recycled, but the accompanying straws cannot and should classified as garbage.

Soup Boxes

Just like a juice box, soup boxes can also be recycled.

Empty Ice Cream Pints

Despite their waxy exterior, ice cream cartons can indeed be recycled.

Plastic Take-Out Boxes

These can generally be recycled, although look for the recycling triangle logo with a number in it to confirm.

Paper Takeout Boxes

The soft paper boxes are preferable to plastic, as they can be composted.

Chinese Food-Style Takeout Boxes

They should go in the compost, so you don’t even have to wash them out. (Just remove any metal wires.)


Believe it or not, chopsticks can be composted, too.


Don’t miss our companion cover story about the changing recycling landscape in America and how San Francisco is staying ahead of the curve.

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