Recycle Right

Are Clamshell Containers Recyclable?

Clamshell container illustration

Jan 06, 2020

So much of our food comes in “clamshells,” those plastic containers whose form and function resemble the shell of a clam. Blueberries, strawberries, lettuce and tomatoes are just a few of the grocery items packaged in clamshells, which are also used to box up restaurant left-overs.

Unfortunately, plastic clamshell containers are not accepted in Franklin County’s curbside or drop-off recycling programs. The equipment used in our local material recovery facility sorts plastic materials based on shape and only accepts bottled-shaped plastics. This means that when making decisions about which plastics to put in the curbside or drop off recycling container, you should choose to only recycle bottle- and jug-shaped plastics, such as ketchup, shampoo and water bottles as well as milk and juice jugs.

But that doesn’t mean clamshell containers have to end up in the garbage. There are so many easy and clever ways to repurpose them. You can use them to:

  • store crayons, pens and markers
  • serve as disposable lunch boxes
  • organize the contents of a drawer
  • make seasonal decorations or gift baskets (decorated with ribbons and flowers)
  • hold yarn, keeping it clean and tangle free as you knit or crochet
  • make a treasure chest for kids (decorated with foil and bling)
  • plant seedlings

Of course, the best way to reduce the number of plastic clamshell containers that wind up in the landfill is to minimize their use. Whenever possible, purchase produce in more environmentally friendly packaging and use your own re-usable containers to bring home leftovers.

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