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What Lids Are Recyclable? | Which to Leave on or Take Off?

Millions of pounds of plastic, metal, and other materials are left in landfills and throughout the ocean each year.

The statistics look grim, but there’s something that we can all do to turn the picture around. By recycling lids, straws, and containers properly, we can reduce the amount of waste that we produce while simultaneously reusing materials. So, what lids are recyclable, and which can you leave on or take off?

Plastic lids without wax coatings are recyclable, as are metal lids. However, Pyrex cannot be recycled due to the methods that are used in the manufacturing process. And you should remove the lids from plastic and metal containers, but there’s no need to remove them from glass containers.

Throughout this article, you’ll learn which types of lids are recyclable, how you can properly dispose of them, and what you can do to prevent waste from making its way to the ocean. It’ll also detail how you can recycle bottles, jars, and other containers with or without the lid.

Recycle Bin with Lots of Lids

Are Plastic Lids Recyclable?

Plastic is undoubtedly the most common material that comes to mind when we think about recycling. Bottles, bags, straws, and many other plastic items are destined to be reused if you dispose of them correctly. However, there are a handful of limitations that you need to keep an eye out for when you’re recycling plastic lids.

Here are the three factors that determine whether or not you can recycle plastic lids:

  1. Was the lid treated for heat by using chemicals and artificial processes? Unfortunately, the additives used to alter certain plastic lids can make them unsafe to recycle. Since recycled materials are used in various applications, the chemicals can leak into all sorts of products.
  2. Is there wax on the lid? Wax is commonly used on all sorts of lids to prevent it from slipping around. It also helps to keep the material from leaking water and bending. A light layer of wax is enough to prevent condensation, but it also causes health issues if it’s recycled. In short, you can’t recycle plastic lids with wax on them.
  3. Is it clean? This question might seem obvious, but you’re supposed to clean anything before you recycle it. Since there’s no way to separate millions of pounds of plastic by hand, it’s our job as consumers to wash debris off of anything that we use. If the plastic lid is clean, then you’re ready to recycle it.

Ultimately, plastic is almost always recyclable. If you’re worried about the lid in question, look around for wax, chemicals, and debris left over from food or liquids. All of your favorite places that use cups with lids likely have recyclable materials. Remember to look for the recycling symbol to get an instant indication.

Are Metal Lids Recyclable?

Metal is another common recyclable material. Unlike plastic, there are seemingly countless different types of metal. Steel and aluminum are the types that are most frequently used. Aluminum is found in cans, bottles, and other containers. On the other hand, steel is used to make hardened bottle caps and some mason jar lids.

Metal lids are usually recyclable, but it depends on numerous variables. For example, you can’t recycle a metal lid if it’s heat-treated or waxed, much like plastic lids. Waxes are used on many jar lids since they help to prevent mold, bacteria, and other invasive things from entering the container.

The biggest problem with recycling metal lids is the process that you have to go through. Sadly, many metal lids end up in the trash, out on the beaches, or on the side of the road. This is a result of the separation that’s required to correctly recycle and reuse metal.

Here are the requirements and recommendations for recycling metal lids and caps:

  • Before you do anything, separate the caps and lids by the type of metal that they’re made out of. Aluminum and steel can’t be thrown together because they’re almost impossible to separate once they arrive at the recycling center. For this reason alone, countless metal lids end up in the trash.
  • Don’t forget to wash the debris off of the lids. Much like plastic and other recyclable materials, metal can’t be melted and reused if it’s covered in liquids or solids. For example, soda lids are covered in sugar, making them a sticky nightmare for recycling centers.
  • Try to recycle small lids and caps by throwing them into a large container of the same material. For example, you can toss aluminum caps into an aluminum can, crunch the can at the top to prevent the caps from falling out, and recycle them in bulk. This process prevents them from falling all over the place and ending up away from the recycling plant.

Are Pyrex Lids Recyclable?

Pyrex is incredibly popular due to the fact that it can withstand tremendous amounts of heat from ovens, stoves, and similar cooking appliances. However, the chemical treatments that are used to make such a protective coating are precisely the reason that you can’t recycle Pyrex lids, containers, and cookware.

It should be noted that almost any other type of glass can be recycled. The only reason that Pyrex falls out of line is due to the previously mentioned chemicals. Other than that, the wax is usually the sole limitation of recycling glass.

So, what do you do if you need to dispose of Pyrex materials? Simply throw them into the garbage can. There’s nothing else you can do to reuse Pyrex, other than using it to create artwork or for other similar recreational purposes.

Some glassware is made with natural treatment, so it’s worth figuring out if they’re recyclable. Keep in mind that Pyrex is a single brand, not the blanketed term for heat-resistant glass. Before you wrap and toss your cookware, check for a recycling symbol.

Do You Have to Take Lids Off Bottles to Recycle?

The three most common materials used in bottles, jars, and other containers are:

  1. Glass
  2. Plastic
  3. Metal

So, do you have to remove the lids before you toss them into the recycling bin? It depends on the material. To save yourself from having to guess, it’s always better to remove the lid, wash everything, and dispose of them separately. However, each material has its own guidelines.

Glass is crushed when it’s recycled, which automatically separates the lid from the container. While it’s ideal that you remove the lid, all non-glass materials are removed at the recycling center. This process is much more forgiving than with other types of recyclables.

Plastic is melted, which seems rather simple, but it’s not. Since plastic often comes in varying densities and types, the melting point is different between the lid and the container. The melted liquid will be filled with chunks of solid plastic. If the plastic is melted at a high enough temperature to cover every material, it’ll burn. Always remove lids from plastic containers and recycle them separately.

Metal is usually crushed down into compact pieces, similar to the process used on old cars. It’s then melted or repurposed at the recycling plant. Much like with plastic, you should always separate metal lids from their containers.

If you do decide to take the lids off, I recommend storing them in labeled waste bags, like these found on Amazon, for easy sorting.


The improvements and increased amount of recycling across the globe have helped to make our planet a better place to live. It also plays a huge role in reducing the effects of climate change, saving the lives of countless animals, and further elevating the quality of life.

By following the guidelines above, you can properly dispose of lids and their containers to prevent them from ending up in the landfill. Remember that wax, chemicals, and debris all can’t be recycled!

Recommended Amazon Products

To make sorting and recycling things easier, here are a few products that will make your life a lot easier.

Related Questions

Can pizza boxes be recycled? Yes, pizza boxes can be recycled since it is made from corrugated cardboard. However, if the box is overly saturated with grease and stuck-on food you may want to just throw it in the normal trash.

How do you dispose of cooking oil environmentally? The best way to dispose of cooking oil environmentally is to pour it into a non-recyclable container after it cools. Then throw it out with the normal trash. Never pour it down the sink or pour it on the ground outside. It can end up in the sewer system and cause clogging issues.

For more, don’t miss The Best Garbage Bags for the Environment.