Can You Recycle Peanut Butter Jars? (Don’t Make These Mistakes)

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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.

Recycling is something that many have to do each week and those that recycle often may be confused about how to properly dispose of certain items. Peanut butter jars are a good example of this.

Some may be curious; can you recycle peanut butter jars? Therefore, continue reading to find out this answer and more!

Can You Recycle Peanut Butter Jars?

In short, peanut butter jars can be recycled, yet they can only be recycled under certain conditions. Furthermore, it is not complicated to recycle peanut butter jars, though it will be important to note how to recycle them in order to do it correctly so as to not disrupt the other recyclable products.

There are important reasons why peanut butter jars must be recycled in certain ways. As mentioned, this process is not complicated and will save you and the recycling plants a lot of headaches, in the end, therefore read on to find out how to do this!

How To Recycle Peanut Butter Jars

Many people may not even be aware that they can recycle peanut butter jars, so they get thrown into the trash. 

Others may know that the jars can be recycled yet recycle them the wrong way. 

Therefore, the following steps are considered the proper ways to prepare a peanut butter jar for recycling:

  • Remove the lid (to be recycled separately) and rinse the jar with warm water as best you can.
  • After the initial rinse, scrape out as much peanut butter from the jar as possible, usually, a spoon or rag would help with this.
  • Add a small amount of soap and about ¼ cup of more warm water to help dissolve leftover peanut butter.
  • Place the lid back on momentarily to shake the jar (with soap and water) for about 15 seconds.
  • Let the jar soak for about 10 minutes, then shake it for 15 seconds once more and rinse thoroughly.
  • Remove the lid once more to be recycled separately from the jar.
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If you follow each of the given steps in order, then you will achieve the best results for recycling a peanut butter jar.

These steps must be followed because there are health and economic reasons why peanut butter jars must be recycled this way. 

Recycling And Health Concerns

Recycling plants use human labor to sort out different items and materials. 

Due to this, concern for the health of the plant workers becomes a priority.

Furthermore, the issue is, much like other food products, spoiling, and degradation.

  • Food items that are left out too long will spoil and become moldy. Contact with mold can lead to illnesses and infections for the workers handling the contaminated items.
  • Food items with large amounts of leftover sugar (like peanut butter) will attract bugs and rodents which will also lead to unsanitary working conditions.

Therefore, the health concern is large amounts of food being leftover in a jar which can spoil and then cause a myriad of issues once it reaches the recycling plant.

Additionally, the health and working conditions of recycling plant employees are important and one of the primary reasons why peanut butter jars have to be recycled the way they do.

Recycling And Clean Incentives

It may not seem obvious, but there are heavy economic incentives for localities to clean and recycle peanut butter jars within local guidelines. 

The cleaner you make items like peanut butter jars, the more likely they will be accepted, and also the more money will be paid back to the local community.

  • Turning in recyclables, like peanut butter jars, that are not clean earn less money when turned in than clean ones
  • When you properly clean food items then recycling plants will pay the maximum amount back to the community

Therefore, cleaning peanut butter jars properly not only ensures health quality for plant workers it also will bring more money back into your local economy.I

What Materials Are Peanut Butter Jars Made Of?

What Materials Are Peanut Butter Jars Made Of?

Peanut butter jars are generally made of two materials; plastic and glass. 

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Furthermore, these two materials tend to be the most versatile in terms of use and recycling. 

However, there are differences between the two materials and how they need to be properly recycled. 

  • Glass is considered more rigid and the optimal recyclable material
  • Many plastics are recyclable yet the process is more complicated than glass
  • Recyclable items of different materials have to be sorted separately

There are challenges when it comes to recycling specific materials, especially plastics. 

In general, it is good to know the recyclable value of both glass and plastic peanut butter jars. 

Therefore, the more you know about the materials in terms of recycling, the better consumer choices you can make.

It is also important to consider the differences between the two materials that peanut butter jars are made of carefully. 

As the materials can make all the difference in making the recycling process easy for you and your local recycling plant.

Glass Peanut Butter Jars

Glass is considered among the best recyclable materials.

This is because glass is rigid and can be reused many times over. 

Furthermore, the recycling process for glass is also much easier, and therefore there is not as big of concern over small amounts of leftover food bits.

  • Glass is recycled by heating and crushing the material, which means any small amounts of leftover food will simply be burned away.
  • The recycling process for glass does let off emissions if there are large amounts of leftover food bits, however.
  • Removing food from glass peanut butter jars does improve the working conditions and economic payback.

The primary importance of removing leftover peanut butter from glass jars is to make the recycling process cleaner and gain the maximum amount back for your community. 

However, while small amounts of leftover peanut butter are not a big deal, they can make the recycling process more unsanitary for both plant workers and the community at large.

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Plastic Peanut Butter Jars

Recycling plastic peanut butter jars is more complicated than glass. 

This is because plastic is broken down with a much different method and not all plastics can be recycled. 

This also creates more issues when it comes to the overall process as recycling plastic tends to present the following challenges:

  • Plastic is not as rigid of material as glass so the recycling process is much more delicate in nature.
  • Since the recycling process is more delicate, plastic materials need to be cleaned more thoroughly before they are sent to a recycling plant.
  • Make sure to remove as many leftover food bits as possible from plastic jars, ideally all of them.

Plastic peanut butter jars tend to be made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) or #1. 

This is a plastic commonly used for food items and does not contain toxic byproducts that other forms of plastic contain.

Therefore, this makes standard plastic peanut butter jars recyclable, provided they have been cleaned thoroughly.

To learn more, you can also read our posts on whether you can recycle foil and latex balloons, whether you can recycle clothing tags, and whether you can recycle bleach bottles.


Peanut butter jars can be recycled and it is important to recycle them if you are able to do so. They are generally made of either glass or plastic, both materials which can be recycled, however, both need to be cleaned properly before being sent to a recycling plant.

Plastic peanut butter jars pose more challenges in terms of the recycling process, therefore they need to be cleaned more thoroughly. Glass on the other hand is easier to recycle, yet you should still try to clean it as much as possible before being recycled. 


  • 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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