Can You Recycle Plastic Cutting Boards (And How)

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Written By Georgios Sinis


A blue plastic cutting board with a recycling symbol on the top right signifying that it is a recyclable item

You can recycle plastic cutting boards using your local curbside recycling program. The most common building material for plastic cutting boards is HDPE #2 plastic, one of the easiest resin types to recycle. Simply clean your plastic cutting board thoroughly and throw it in the recycling bin.

Disposal Method: Recycling Bin
Plastic Types (#): HDPE #2

*Requires preparation before recycling

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

Showing the HDPE Plastic recycling symbol RIC #2 commonly used in plastic cutting boards

The majority of plastic cutting boards are made of HDPE #2 because it is durable and corrosion-resistant and doesn’t dull knife blades. It is one of the most commonly recycled resing types. The symbol can usually be found on the back of the cutting board.

Where To Recycle

1) Use Recycling Locators: Locate HDPE or Cutting Board specialized recycling programs near you using RecycleNation & Earth911 (US) or RecycleNow (UK). Search based on the RIC symbol and the item name.

2) Curbside Recycling: The most common place to recycle plastic cutting boards will be your local curbside recycling. Simply prepare the cutting board and throw it in the blue (or yellow) recycling bin.

Similar Recyclable Plastic Household Items

Plastic dish drainer with a symbol on the top right indicating it is recyclable
Plastic Dish Drainer
Plastic tub with a symbol on the top right indicating it is recyclable
Plastic Tub
Plastic food storage container with a symbol on the top right indicating it is recyclable
Plastic Food Storage Container

How To Prepare Your Plastic Cutting Board For Recycling

Wait, don’t be so hasty. Based on my experience, people chuck their plastic waste in the recycling bin without the necessary preparation steps. This is a big no-no if you want your items to end up being recycled.

The same rule applies to plastic cutting boards. If you skip those steps, you might contaminate the recycling process with unwanted material or force the recycling center to reject your item.

Let’s explore what needs to be done to prepare your cutting boards for recycling properly and turn you into a recycling master!

Remove Non-Plastic Components

This might be the most obvious step of them all, but miraculously, people forget about it all the time. Since you are my recycling apprentice, I will not let you repeat such a mistake!

If the cutting board has any non-plastic parts, remove them entirely. To be honest, I rarely even see plastic cutting boards with anything else other than plastic on them, but you never know. 

There are thousands of cutting board variations in the market, and I am certain some will contain parts that do not fit into plastic recycling.

Wash Thoroughly

Another widespread source of contamination when it comes to cutting-board recycling is food. “How is that even possible?” you might be thinking. Well, it’s actually pretty simple.

After years of use and contact with sharp objects, plastic cutting boards develop deep cracks. On the surface, your plastic board might look pretty clean, but those cracks trap food waste that can cause issues during the recycling process.

Remember. Such contaminants, even in small quantities, can ruin the whole recycling batch. To prevent this, grab your cutting board and wash it thoroughly using soap and water.

Washing a plastic cutting board in the kitchen sink using soap and water to remove any potential recycling contaminants
Wash the plastic cutting board using soap and water

After you are done cleaning and sanitizing it, let it dry. Moisture can also cause issues.

Where Can You Recycle Plastic Cutting Boards?

Sadly that is very location dependant. Each municipality has its own unique recycling rules and limitations, making it very hard for me to pinpoint an exact spot. Nonetheless, I’ll do my best to mention the most common places that might accept plastic cutting boards for recycling.

  1. Curbside Recycling: The most obvious place to recycle plastic cutting boards is your curbside recycling program. Prepare it and throw it in the blue recycling bin.
  2. Drop-off Recycling Centers: Certain locations might accept your old cutting board in their specialized recycling program. You’ll have to drop it off yourself, though. 
  3. Retail Take-Back Programs: Many retail stores like Walmart have recycling hubs that accept all kinds of plastic items for recycling. Give them a call to check if they have an active program. 
  4. Main-In Programs: Companies like TerraCycle have Mail-In programs where you can send your plastic cutting boards for recycling through the mail. Sadly this is an expensive option, but it might be worth it, depending on your situation.

While all the above solutions are great, most won’t be available for non-US citizens. If you are outside the US, I advise you to look into solutions 1 and 3 mainly.

What Are The Environmental Benefits Of Recycling Plastic Cutting Boards?

Most plastic cutting boards are not being recycled but instead end up in landfills rotting away for hundreds of years. To give you some context on how many cutting boards are being produced yearly, the (2023) cutting board market is estimated to be worth $3.275 billion.

That is a LOT of cutting boards. By recycling them, you help the environment by:

  • Reducing plastic and microplastic pollution.
  • Preventing BPA and other chemicals from leeching into the ecosphere.
  • Preventing approximately 1.02kg of CO2 from entering the atmosphere (per plastic cutting board recycled).    

How To Choose Eco-Friendly Cutting Boards And Reduce Plastic Waste

Plastic cutting boards are very prone to erosion and damage. They get easily scratched by metallic utensils giving them a very low “life” expectancy. This forces people to discard them more often than other alternatives creating more waste in the process.

The most logical approach to this issue would be to use a cutting board made from a sustainable material that is durable and scratch resistant. Well, I’ve got some good news!

Switch all your plastic cutting boards with marble/glass ones. I won’t lie; they are bulkier but are impossible to damage (unless dropped), easier to clean, and don’t harbor as much bacteria.

A glass cutting board being used showcasing its scratch and damage resistant nature compared to a plastic one
Scratch-resistant glass cutting board


Can I Recycle Wooden or Bamboo Cutting Boards?

No, you can not recycle wood or bamboo cutting boards. But since wood and bamboo are both organic materials, they can 100% be composted.

What Material Are Plastic Cutting Boards Made Of?

Most plastic cutting boards are made of HDPE plastic (number 2). They can also be made from PP plastic, otherwise known as Polypropylene (number 5).

What Can I Do With An Old Plastic Cutting Board?

The most eco-friendly solution would be to recycle your old plastic cutting board. If that isn’t an option, you can find creative ways to upcycle it and repurpose it into something useful. Don’t be afraid to be creative!