Can You Recycle Frozen Food Boxes And Bags? (Full Guide)

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Jean Richardson

Jean Richardson is a lover of knowledge, in all forms. He has spent over 15 years as a high school teacher, instructing students in history, geography, mathematics, and more.

It’s Friday night and you are contemplating what to cook. Let’s be honest, most of us choose the easier option of a frozen pizza or a meal with frozen veggies. 

If it has crossed your mind whether or not you can recycle frozen food boxes and bags then you are in the right place. Here is what my research found!

Can You Recycle Frozen Food Boxes And Bags?

Frozen food boxes made out of cardboard or plastic can be recycled as long as there is no grease or food on them. However, frozen food bags cannot be recycled due to the multiple layers of polymer and must be placed in the garbage.

Continue reading to learn how to recycle frozen food boxes, how to upcycle and reuse the products, as well as the environmental impact these convenience options are having on the environment.

How To Recycle Frozen Food Boxes 

Although frozen food bags are non-recyclable due to their components’ complexity, there are ways to recycle frozen food boxes. 

In order to do so properly, you must ensure the following steps have been completed:

  • Distinguish the material of the box
  • See if any recycling restrictions exist
  • Find a good place to recycle the box

How To Determine The Material

The box’s material plays a significant role in determining whether or not it is safe to recycle. 

Furthermore, there are two types of frozen food boxes, poly-coated paperboard, and wax-coated paperboard. 

Poly-coated paperboard is lined with a thin layer of plastic. This is to prevent freezer burn and moisture leakage. 

As these types of boxes are made with mixed materials, recycling them becomes difficult because in order for them to be properly recycled all materials need to be separated.

Wax-coated cardboard is another kind of material manufacturers use to package frozen foods. 

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The distinctive difference between the two boxes is that wax-coated cardboard is formed with compostable wax and can be determined by scratching the coating of the box’s outer layer. 

If the outer layer or coating comes off easily, it has been coated in wax, not plastic.

Local Recycling Restrictions 

Individuals need to become acquainted with the recycling regulations within their town before tossing boxes into the garbage or wrongfully placing them into recycling bins. 

Each city’s recycling centers differ between accepting and rejecting specific materials based on the equipment and resources they have. 

Therefore, residents are encouraged to review the list provided by their curbside pickup. 

Additionally, Earth911 is an excellent resource for anyone trying to access this information, just enter your zip code to locate the requested information.

Can you Recycle Non-Recyclable Frozen Bags?

Can you Recycle Non-Recyclable Frozen Bags?

Unfortunately, frozen bags are out of the question due to multiple layers of polymer on them and should be placed in the garbage. 

Furthermore, environmental specialists encourage consumers to avoid buying them and look for alternative methods to decrease non-recyclable waste. 

Is It Safe For The Environment?

As discussed previously, frozen food bags are not recyclable, and the boxes they come in are questionable regarding whether or not they are recyclable.

Luckily, wax-coated material is biodegradable as long as its form is of compostable wax such as soybean or beeswax.

Next, I will take you through how you can use these wax-coated cardboard boxes to create compost.

Creating Compost

Planet Ark, a trusted recycling site educating the public on ways to reduce waste, states: 

“Composting this material either on-site or through a commercial recycling service diverts waste from landfill, reduces methane production, and can also produce significant savings in waste management costs.”

So, you can try composting wax-coated cardboard without sending it off to a landfill. 

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However, unlike other cardboard types, this process can be more brutal to handle but is doable. Some tips to consider when getting started:

  • Break the cardboard into smaller pieces.
  • Wax-coated material is more resistant to water and should soak longer in a compost bin for at least a few months to allow for erosion to occur.
  • Adding liquid detergent to the mix can help speed up decomposition.
  • Turn the compost every few days and keep the compost moist. 

Compost For Gardens

Mulch can be expensive for the tiny amount received, and someone with a larger garden will need all the mulch they can get. 

With mulch running around $3 a bag at local hardware/garden shops, it will cost less to create the mulch in your own time. 

Saving money is a plus, but you will also be implanting natural resources into the environment. 

Preparation and commitment are all someone needs to get the ball rolling, and once the compost is ready, the easy part is putting it around garden beds or potted plants. 

A benefit of producing recycled mulch is that the weather will aid in fermenting the product deeper into the soil come spring during the cold months.

But what about reusing or upcycling frozen food boxes? I have got you covered!

Reuse And Upcycle

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. If recycling is not an option, there are other ways to reduce cardboard boxes’ pile up and ignite your imagination. 

Reusing empty containers for crafts or projects can be fun to rid of the excess material building up in one’s trash can or garage.

Magazine Filing System

Tired of having scattered paperwork across the desk with no place to file it? Well, cereal boxes are notorious for being revamped into magazines or file holders. 

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On the plus side, they are easy to create.

  • Cut the box into the proper size and format.
  • Pick out the fabric or paper to cover the box.

Birder Feeder

Bird feeders can lean toward the pricey side. Luckily, frozen food boxes can be reconstructed into bird feeders.

  • Cut and roll the box to form a narrow telescope.
  • Select an edible paste (peanut butter, nut butter, or coconut oil) to smear onto the base and roll it in seeds.
  • Place a durable string inside the opening and search for a location to tie it to.

A handful of creative proposals can be found across the internet. Here are some examples:

  • Notebooks
  • Mini Mirror
  • Shoebox
  • Jewelry Holder
  • Seed Starters

Not only can this help reduce waste, but it can help save money and avoid shopping in retail stores or online.

Getting started may be intimidating at first, but recycling does not have to be stressful.

To learn more, you can also read our posts on whether you can recycle candle jars and containers, whether you can recycle lotion bottles, tubes, and pumps, and whether you can recycle latex gloves.


Frozen food bags are considered harmful to the environment because of the extra layer of polymer.  This is because it can pose a threat to humans and wildlife, and therefore, must be disposed of correctly.

However, frozen food boxes are difficult to break down in the standard pulp process, but considering its material and a resident’s local recycling restriction, there is a chance recycling can be an option for them by taking a few extra steps.


  • Jean Richardson

    Jean Richardson is a lover of knowledge, in all forms. He has spent over 15 years as a high school teacher, instructing students in history, geography, mathematics, and more.

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