Online Shopping: How to recycle the packaging?

Recycling Rules


Online shopping produces multiple layers of packaging and shopping waste, leaving you with a lot to clean up.

Here’s what you can recycle in your recycling bin:

Cardboard – YES

All cardboard from shipping and product packaging can be recycled. Just make sure it’s empty of other materials (no foam or plastic). This includes the shipping box, cardboard pieces inside the package, and product boxes. Flatten the box to save space in your bin and make sure nothing is left inside.

Hard Plastic Trays and Shells – NO

Plastic “shells” that fit around the product or hard trays that hold it cannot be recycled in your bin. Single stream recycling equipment cannot sort it out properly. Though there is an industry push to come up with solutions to recover this material, it is not currently accepted. Check with the retailer your purchased  from if they offer a mail-in program instead.

Bubble Wrap and Air Pillows – NO

You can’t recycle it in your recycling bin, but bubble wrap can be brought to plastic bag drop off sites typically at grocery stores or big-box retailers. Find a drop-off site in your area and learn why it can’t go in the bin here.

Plastic and Padded Paper Envelopes – NO

Just like bubble wrap, plastic “film” envelopes are not recyclable in your bin. Padded paper envelopes are also a No as they are lined with bubble wrap that cannot be easily separated from the outside paper packaging.

Packing Paper & Non-Padded Envelopes – YES

Most of the paper in your packaging can by recycled, including brown or white packing paper, plain tissue paper, receipts, marketing flyers, and receipts printed on plain paper. **Any labels or receipts printed on large sticker, adhesive or label paper, please keep out.**

Styrofoam Sheets, Blocks, Peanuts, Beads – NO

Polystyrene is difficult to contain and is not made for the single stream sorting process. Reuse it or find a mail-in recycling program instead.

Plastic Bags – NO

Many retailers use plastic bags to contain clothes and other items. Like bubble wrap, plastic bags can be brought to plastic grocery bag drop off sites but are not accepted in your bin. Find a drop-off site in your area and learn why it can’t go in the bin here.


When in doubt, keep it out. Check out the recycling guide here with a list of everything that can be recycled in your Sioux Falls recycling bin.