Can I Recycle Solo Cups?

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Can I recycle Solo cups?

Those red plastic cups seem to appear at every party you go to. It seems like you should be able to recycle them with the rest of your plastic bottles, but can you actually recycle Solo cups?

The answer is NO. Unless you live in a community that has told you that you can include these in your recycling, you should not put Solo cups in your recycling bin because they are generally undesirable and not recyclable. These types of disposable party cups are made of #6 plastic (polystyrene), which is the same type of plastic Styrofoam is made of. Almost no one wants this type of plastic as it is difficult and not profitable to try to recycle it into new products.

How can I make my next party more sustainable?

  • Wash out those Solo cups and save for reuse at the next party.
  • Rent reusable cups. If you are having a large party and need more cups than you have on hand, there are services that will allow you to rent out more durable cups, plates and plasticware and return after use.
  • Make it easy to go reusable. A big part of the reason people like to use these types of cups is to save on the cleanup work at the end, because the disposables are simply thrown in the trash. Reusables are extra work, but you can make it a little easier on yourself if you fill a big Rubbermaid type tub with soapy water and ask everyone to rinse their cups and plates and put them in the bin to soak. Then it won’t be as difficult at the end of the party or the next day to clean up.
  • Recycle them through TerraCycle. If you are in a workplace that simply isn’t willing to go the reusable route, you could purchase a TerraCycle #6 Rigid Plastic Cups Zero Waste Box. This is a mail-in program. After the box is filled, you will mail to TerraCycle for recycling.
  • Buy compostable cups. Please note that most compostable cups will not break down in an ordinary backyard bin. They are generally only “commercially compostable,” meaning that they need the high heat conditions of a commercial composting facility to fully break down. So this option only works if you send your compostables to a composting facility. Buy compostable cups at Earth Hero.
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