Can You Recycle Coffee Canisters? (Explained)

Coffee canisters.

I love getting to the end of a round of coffee beans. Yes, I'm sad that the roast is gone, but I'm also excited that I get to buy something new.

But what should I do with the old canister? It doesn't seem eco-friendly to just throw it in the trash, especially with how many I go through. That's why I looked to see if my local recycling center would accept my old coffee cans, canisters, and bags.

Can you recycle coffee canisters? Yes, you can recycle almost all plastic and metal coffee canisters. Make sure to rinse out any coffee residue before you put the canister in your bin. Coffee bean bags usually aren't recyclable because they're coated in wax or another waterproof material.

Of course, not all canisters can go in the recycling bin. Make sure you know what kind of material the canister is made from before you make a decision.

What Kinds of Containers Are Recyclable?

Every brand of coffee is packaged in a different kind of container. Metal cans, plastic canisters, and paper bags are all popular ways to store both whole and ground coffee beans. Once you've identified the material, you'll be able to decide whether that container is destined for the recycling center or the landfill.

Metal

Almost every type of metal is recyclable. This is because metal can be melted down and forged into something else; it's also easy to separate from other materials.

Metal coffee cans are definitely safe to put in your recycling bin. If the label is coated with plastic or wax, you may want to remove it first.

Aluminum foil is safe to recycle. However, the foil lids that come on food containers may not be recyclable if they are coated in wax or another substance. The foil covers on K-Cup pods are safe to recycle, but you may need to separate them from the rest of the pod.

Paper

Plain paper is always safe to recycle. However, the paper isn't waterproof, so most “paper” food containers use additional materials in their designs.

Coffee bean bags are usually coated with wax, resin, or foil. These materials can't be separated from the paper by the recycling center, so they're listed as non-recyclable.

Some coffee bean bags are labeled as recyclable or compostable. This means that they aren't coated with artificial substances and are ok to put in your bin.

Plastic

The word “plastic” can actually refer to many different thermoplastic materials. Some plastic containers are recyclable, but others definitely aren't.

Most plastic containers are labeled with a plastic code that identifies the material that was used. This symbol looks like a triangle with a number in the center.

Every company puts the plastic code in a different place. Look for it on the bottom of the canister, near the nutrition facts, or on the lid.

Once you've found the code, check your local recycling center's website to find out which plastic codes they can accept. Although every center is different, the following rules generally apply:

  • Codes 1 and 2 are almost universally accepted. These plastics are used for food containers like soda bottles, milk jugs, and standard coffee canisters.

  • Codes 3, 6, and 7 are not safe to recycle. These materials include saran wrap, plastic bags, foam, and miscellaneous resin-based products.

  • Codes 4 and 5 might be accepted. Some food containers, like yogurt cups, are made from these plastics; they're usually a bit softer or thicker than containers made with plastics 1 and 2. These plastics process differently, so check with your recycling center.

Coffee Accessories That You Can't Recycle

One of the great things about homemade coffee is that it's significantly healthier for the environment. Many of the accessories related to commercial coffee aren't safe to recycle, so think twice before you toss that disposable cup into the recycling bin.

  • Coffee cups – Almost all disposable coffee cups are coated in waterproof wax or resin that can't be removed at the recycling center. Check near the bottom of the cup to see if it's recyclable; you should see a triangle made from green arrows.

  • Coffee lids – Plastic coffee lids usually aren't recyclable because they're made from the wrong type of plastic. Even if they're made from plastics 1 and 2, these items are too small to be sorted by the recycling center.

  • Creamer containers – Single-serving creamer containers might be plastic, but they aren't recyclable. Toss your empty packets in the trash, and consider buying a larger container of creamer to keep at home.

  • Stir sticks – Like straws, those red plastic stir sticks are not safe to recycle. Wooden stir sticks are also not recyclable, but they might be compost-friendly.

  • Off-brand K-Cup pods – Official K-Cup pods are recyclable, but off-brand pods aren't always made from the same materials. Check what kind of plastic the cups are made from before you recycle them.

Related Article: DOES NESPRESSO USE K CUPS?

Going Green as a Coffee Drinker

If you make coffee at home, congratulations. You're already doing quite a bit for the environment. However, you can always do more to reduce the impact of each delicious home-brewed cup.

Compost Coffee Grounds and Filters

Coffee grounds make a great addition to your compost heap. They break down easily, and they also add nitrogen to the soil. The only reason to avoid composting your coffee grounds is if your soil is already very high in nitrogen.

Paper coffee filters can also go straight into the compost heap. Make sure they're biodegradable; filters made from plastic or coated in wax should probably go in the trash.

Buy a Reusable Coffee Cup

The coffee cups that you use at home can be washed and rinsed, but what about taking your coffee on the go? Look for a travel mug that's big enough for your favorite latte. I personally prefer porcelain travel mugs – they're more fragile, but they don't add a metallic taste.

Choose an Eco-Friendly Coffee Maker

Coffee machines are relatively eco-friendly, especially if you use the same one for a long time. But if you really want to reduce your carbon footprint, consider buying a pour-over coffee maker. These coffee makers don't use electricity and are usually made from recyclable materials like metal or glass.

Want to reduce the impact of your favorite drip coffee maker? Turn it off when you're not using it. This will use less electricity and greatly increase the lifespan of your machine.

Related Questions

Can you recycle K-Cup Pods?

K-Cup pods are made from plastic, aluminum, and paper filters. These elements can be recycled individually, but they need to be separated. Break the K-Cup pod into individual pieces and sort them into the correct categories. Don't forget to rinse out the coffee grounds.

Can you recycle Folger's coffee canisters?

Folger's coffee canisters and lids are both safe to recycle. These items are made from plastics 1 and 2 and are accepted by almost all recycling centers. Remember to clean out any coffee residue before you put your canister in the bin.