This week, readers wondered about the recyclability of odd plastic items.

Q: Is there a place to take empty medicine bottles that I get from the pharmacy? It seems like they could be reused, but many have labels and I don't want to just put them in my recyclable trash bin with all my information on it.

Stutzman Refuse Disposal takes plastics No. 1 through 7. Medicine bottles are typically a No. 5 plastic, so they are recyclable. A thorough cleaning or black permanent marker could do the trick.

“We do process those, but scrub the information off for privacy purposes. Our employees won’t keep them, but if they fall out on the street someone could pick them up,” said Lucas Sharp, commercial account manager for SRD.

If you prefer, you can always reuse the bottles in a variety of ways.

Organize a junk drawer or sewing supplies by keeping sharp objects like thumbtacks and pins corralled in a bottle.

Medicine bottles are just right for a travel-size amount of toiletries – shampoo, lotion, cotton swabs – and can keep jewelry pieces from disappearing in your suitcase.

Also, pill bottles are waterproof, so they make for a smart – and cheap -- storage option for cash at the beach.

Q: Are the plastic sleeves containing our daily paper a recyclable item? There is the recycle emblem on it; however, they make it clear they do not want plastic bags in the recycle bins

Yes, but not through SRD. Those newspaper sleeves fall in the same category as shopping bags.

“Whether it’s a sleeve that goes over the paper or a shopping bag, they get caught in the conveyor belts and the heat turns them into a sticky goop and we have to shut down to clear it out. When you’re running 100 tons of recycling every day, you don’t have time to shut down all the time,” Sharp said.

Newspaper sleeves have their reuses – pooper scooper bags are a common one – but they can be recycled through separate streams. Grocery stores like Dillons and Walmart accept bags and bale the plastic.

All materials should be clean and dry, but these bag drop-off bins accept a number of plastic items:


plastic shopping bags
zipper-top bags
bread bags
plastic liners from cereal boxes (do not include if they tear like paper)
produce bags
dry cleaning bags (remove staples, receipts, hangars)
plastic newspaper sleeves
product wrapping (like on a case of water bottles)
bubble wrap and air pillows (popped)
plastic shipping envelopes (remove labeling)

Other plastics need to go into the trash, including:


frozen food bags
cereal box liners that tear like paper
biodegradable bags
pre-washed salad bags
candy bar wrappers
chip bags
six-pack rings

Keep those questions coming by sending them to askhutch@hutchnews.com.