Can You Recycle Plastic Cutlery (And How)

Fact Checked
Photo of author
Written By Georgios Sinis


Multiple plastic cutlery items with a symbol on the top right indicating they are not recyclable

You can not recycle plastic cutlery through conventional curbside recycling. Their small size and awkward shape make them challenging to sort, meaning they usually get stuck on machinery or filtered out during sieving. On top of that, they are generally made of non-recyclable plastics: Polypropylene & Polystyrene.  

Disposal Method: Garbage Bin
Plastic Types (#): PP #5 , PS #6

Please note: Recycling guidelines may vary depending on local regulations and facilities. The information provided here is intended as a general guide and may not apply to your specific location or item. Always check with your local recycling center or municipal authority for the most accurate and up-to-date recycling information in your area.

Typical RIC Symbols Used

Plastic recycling symbol RIC #5 used in the production of plastic cutlery

While #5 Polypropylene is technically recyclable, it is rarely processed. Its recycling rate is barely touching 1%.

Plastic recycling symbol RIC #6

The #6 Polystyrene plastic category is very difficult to recycle. No method is yet available to achieve economic sustainability.

Where To Recycle

  1. Use Recycling Locators: Locate specialized recycling programs near you using RecycleNation & Earth911 (US) or RecycleNow (UK). Search either “Cutlery” or “PP”, or “PS”.
  2. Give them away on FreeCycle: If you just want to give them away, you can always use the FreeCycle website and create a post for free.
  3. Recycle Through Walmart: Walmart has its own dedicated plastics recycling program in place. They accept all kinds of plastic cutlery. Drop them off in one of their community recycling hubs.

Ways To Reduce Cutlery Waste

Metallic cutlery presented as a more eco-friendly alternative to plastic cutlery

If you want to reduce your overall plastic waste footprint, consider opting out of using plastic cutlery. Instead, use portable metallic cutlery that will last a lifetime and are easily recyclable.