You produce 2.5kg of waste a day. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.

Let's talk recycling

What Can Be Recycled?

We know what it’s like. You’ve just removed a new pen from the packaging, or finished this week’s newspaper (yes, they still exist), or had the last spoonful of honey from the jar. You pause, hand hovering in the air, uncertain as to what to do next.

If you’ve been in this position, and find yourself wondering: “Is this recyclable?”, we’re here to provide you with the information to ensure that the action you take is the right one – and preferably, the recycling one!

Take a look at our guide below on the six key recyclable materials, or read through our blog, or visit our Resources and FAQs. And if you ever want to know more about recycling, hit us up on Facebook or Instagram, or drop us an email. We’d love to talk recyclables with you!

For a full list of what you can recycle, and how, as well as why it’s important, download our Complete Recycling Guide below.

What can be recycled


100% recyclable, and can be recycled endlessly without loss in quality or purity!

Can be recycled by Whole Earth Recycling:

  • Cooldrink bottles
  • Beer bottles
  • Sauce bottles
  • Wine bottles
  • Jam jars
  • Spice bottles

Cannot be recycled by Whole Earth Recycling:

  • Drinking glass/ceramics
  • Cups and plates
  • Light bulbs (however, these can be dropped off at your local Builder’s Warehouse)
  • Mirrors
  • Window glass
  • Car windscreens
  • Light covers

NB* It’s super important that all empty glass containers are emptied before being put into the refuse bag for recycling!

What can be recycled

Paper & Cardboard

South Africans use around 50kg of paper a year, so we all need to do what we can to ensure it ends up being recycled!

Can be recycled by Whole Earth Recycling:

  • White and colour office paper
  • Writing and computer paper
  • Envelopes (without windows)
  • Gift wrapping paper
  • Cardboard
  • Cereal boxes
  • The core from toilet rolls and paper towels
  • Boxes
  • Books
  • Magazines
  • Flyers and catalogues
  • Newspapers
  • Telephone books

Cannot be recycled by Whole Earth Recycling:

  • Laminated, platicized (shiny) coated paper
  • Carbon paper
  • Tissues
  • Paper towel
  • Waxed and grease proof paper
  • Waxed plastic coated paper
  • Overhead projector sheets

Did you know?

The total amount of plastic ever produced worldwide, until 2015, is estimated to be 8.3 billion tonnes. And approximately 6.3 billion tonnes of this has been discarded as waste, of which 79% has accumulated in landfills or the natural environment. Only 9% has been recycled, with less than 1% of all plastic ever being recycled more than once. 

There are different types of plastic with their own distinct chemical and physical properties, which makes for differences in the ease with which they can be sorted and reprocessed. To learn what types of plastic you have and whether it’s recyclable, download this easy Plastics Recycling guide 

Remember, it’s important to rinse and clean all of your plastic waste before putting it into the recycling refuse bin.

What can be recycled

Plastic Items that can be recycled by Whole Earth Recycling

PET Bottles (Polyethylene terephthalate):

  • Cooldrinks
  • Water
  • Flavourants
  • Salad dressings
  • Honey
  • Sauce
  • Peanut butter
  • Oil

PE-HD (High-density polyethylene):

  • Milk
  • Juice
  • Shampoo
  • Detergent bottles e.g. Handy Andy Dishwashing Liquid

PE-LD (Low-density polyethylene):

  • Frozen veggie bags
  • Bread bags
  • Milk sachets
  • Shopping bags
  • Black bin bags
  • Drinks pack wrappers e.g. the wrapping on a 6 pack of beer or soft drink
  • Bubblewrap

PP (Polypropylene):

  • Yoghurt and ice cream containers
  • Margarine tubs
  • Medication bottles
  • Plastic bowls, cups and plates that have the PP identification code on them

PS (Polystyrene):

  • Clean polystyrene and packaging
  • White polystyrene cups and food containers

PVC (Polyvinyl chloride):

  • Electrical cabling insulation
  • Garden hosepipes
What cannot be recycled

Plastic Items that CANNOT be recycled by Whole Earth Recycling

  • Fruit and vegetable bags – crinkly/noisy ones
  • Chip packets
  • Sweet wrappers
  • Tea bag wrappers
  • Cup-a-Soup packets
  • Biscuits wrappers
  • Dog and cat food sachets
  • Rubber (tyres and tubes)
  • Washing powder bags
  • PET food packaging trays (vegetables and fruits)
  • Dog food bags
  • Cat litter bags (plastic lined)
  • DVDs and CDs
What can be recycled

Electronic Waste

Also known as e-waste, recycling electronics has become one of the most urgent issues in the world today!

Electronics that can be recycled by Whole Earth Recycling:

  • Small household electronics e.g. toasters, irons, kettles, etc
  • Computers, components and printers
  • DVD/CD/VCR/MP3 players
  • Fridges, freezers, stoves, etc (by prior arrangement)
  • Old geysers
  • TVs
  • Cell phones (keep battery separate)
  • X-Rays

NB* While we do not collect or recycle batteries or lightbulbs, you can drop these off at your nearest Builder’s Warehouse or Woolworths to make sure they’re disposed of responsibly.

What can be recycled

Tetra Pak

Tetra Pak packaging are those cartons made with paper, foil and plastic, and often used for things such as custard, soy milk, almond milk or juices. According to Tetra Pak’s website, the recycling rate for all Tetra Park is currently 26% worldwide. This low percentage is attributed to the fact that very few recycling facilities accept Tetra Pak for recycling, which often sees it end up in landfill.

Can be recycled by Whole Earth Recycling:

  • Long life milk and juice cartons
  • Custard cartons

NB* As with all glass and plastic recycling, it’s important that all Tetra Pak items are completely empty before being added to the blue recycling refuse bag.

What can be recycled

Cans & Metals

All metal cans are recyclable, but it’s important to make sure you’re doing it right to ensure you don’t contaminate an entire batch of recyclable materials!

Can be recycled by Whole Earth Recycling:

  • Beverage cans e.g. cooldrinks and beer
  • Food tins e.g. dog food, coffee, beans (steel)
  • Clean paint tins
  • Steel oil drums
  • Aerosol cans e.g. deodorant, hair spray, polish
  • Braai grids, sieves, dish drainers
  • Metal aluminium (frames, doors and gates)
  • Light steel (roofing zinc)
  • Heavy steel (window frame)
  • Aluminium/tin foil
  • Aluminium food trays

NB* Make sure to ensure that all cans and recyclable metal items are emptied of food before adding them to the blue recycling refuse bag to avoid contamination.

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