Crumpled Aluminum Foil

Have you ever wondered how to recycle foil? I for sure have. Here’s the good news: if you have clean foil with no residue, it’s completely possible. But the bad news is that I can’t give you all the answers in this article. You’re going to have to do some research about where to recycle aluminum, and then stick to some recycling rules of thumb.

Facts first:

According to The Aluminum Association, nearly 75% of all recycled aluminum is still in use today. In fact, they say, “Aluminum is one of the only materials in the consumer disposal stream that more than pays for the cost of its own collection.” My takeaway: Maybe when you’re about to reach for a plastic bottle of anything, go for the aluminum cans instead.

How to Recycle Foil

  • First, check with your local recycling center or municipality to see if they accept foil in curbside bins. Nearly all curbside bin programs accept aluminum cans. But let’s think about other foil products you might also be able to recycle—yogurt lids, K-cup lids, pie tins, even chocolate candies! Those can add up over time. Don’t forget to add these to your recycling if your city or recycling center allows it.
  • As with anything put into the recycling stream, it’s completely necessary for your foil to be clean of any food, particles, grease, etc. Imagine what a yogurt lid must smell like after days in the recycling process—gross!
  • Finally, roll your aluminum foil into a ball so it doesn’t get stuck in the recycling machinery, or worse, blow away in your recycling bin before it’s even collected! Keep adding to the ball until it gets to about a 2″ around.
Crumpled Aluminum Foil
Recycle me! Save me!

What can you do to reduce your carbon footprint when it comes to aluminum foil?

  • Cover food with earth-friendly wraps, for example, this Etee wrap I reviewed.
  • Buy 100% recycled aluminum foil from the start. Reynolds sells this (check the box first) as does this company I found called If You Care.
  • Rinse your aluminum foil and use it again (great for baking!)
  • Recycle, recycle, recycle!

Do you have anything to add to this list? Tell us in the comments. Or reach out to me and let’s talk.

How to Recycle Foil


Hi, I'm MJ, a recovering aspirational recycler who started HowToRecycle to share her journey with others. I kindly invite you to share your knowledge with me, talk about issues that are bothering you, tell me where I’m wrong (you know you want to), and help me discover new things!

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