Can You Recycle Travel Mugs? (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.

If you’re ever on the go and want to drink coffee, tea, or even water, you may want to use a travel mug. That way, you don’t have to worry about the drink spilling. But you may be wondering how sustainable travel mugs are.

You may also be wondering, are travel mugs recyclable? Continue reading to find out this answer and more!

Can You Recycle Travel Mugs?

Recycling travel mugs depends on the materials used to make the mug. For example, some residential recycling programs don’t take metal, therefore it would need to be taken to a metal scrap yard. However, it is possible to recycle glass travel mugs like any other glass. Plastic, on the other hand, isn’t as easy to recycle.

Whether you want to drink coffee on the way to work or take it on a hike, you should have a travel mug. But after you use the mug enough times, you may want to dispose of it. Read on to learn how to do that in an eco-friendly way!

How To Recycle Travel Mugs

The steps you take to recycle travel mugs will depend on the materials its made of. 

For example, you may be able to recycle metal or plastic travel mugs like you would anything else.

However, you should look for a specific recycling bin to use for glass travel mugs.

Therefore, no matter the material, ask your city about what materials the residential recycling program accepts. 

You can also ask if they accept travel mugs in the recycling. Then, you can make sure the mugs won’t go to the landfill.

Furthermore, before you send anything off for recycling, make sure you clean it. 

This is because if there’s any sort of food or beverage residue, the recycling plant may reject the item.

Therefore, run your mug through the dishwasher if you can, or hand wash it if not.

How Can I Dispose Of Travel Mugs?

If you find you can’t recycle your travel mugs, you can dispose of them with the rest of your trash. 

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As with recycling, do your best to clean the travel mug. While it isn’t as important as when recycling, a clean mug won’t spill.

What Materials Are Travel Mugs Made Of?

You can find travel mugs in multiple different materials, and each material can have a different recycling process. Consider some of the most common travel mug materials:

  • Ceramic
  • Glass
  • Metal (stainless steel)
  • Plastic

However, it’s important to note that the mug and lid may not be the same material. 

For example, you may have a stainless steel mug with a plastic lid. If that’s the case, you should know how to recycle both materials.

Then, one part of the mug won’t get thrown into the trash while the rest goes through recycling. 

Are Travel Mugs Biodegradable?

Some travel mugs are biodegradable, depending on the materials they use. 

For example, ceramic and certain compostable plastic travel mugs are biodegradable. 

However, other plastic travel mugs as well as mugs made of stainless steel or glass aren’t biodegradable.

Although maybe not recyclable, you can still reuse and upcycle travel mugs from any of these materials. 

Where Can I Recycle Travel Mugs?

Where Can I Recycle Travel Mugs?

You can recycle travel mugs in a few different places. Exactly where may depend on where you live and the type of travel mug you have.

First, check the Yellow Pages to see if there’s a specific recycling center in your area. You can also ask your city for information on recycling the material that your mug uses.

When it comes to glass, for example, you may be able to find a glass recycling bin in your city. 

Then, you can take all of your glasses there, including glass bottles.

Are Travel Mugs Bad For The Environment?

If anything, travel mugs are good for the environment because you can take them with you anywhere. 

Therefore, you don’t have to worry about using a disposable cup every time you get coffee or tea from a shop.

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Additionally, as long as you go to a shop that uses reusable containers, you can save a cup. 

You might also be able to save a bit of money if the shop offers discounts on reusable mugs. 

How Can I Reuse And Upcycle Travel Mugs?

While recycling travel mugs is a good idea, you don’t have to do that. Consider how you can get some more life out of a good travel mug.

You can always recycle the mug later, however, you may find that you can make use of it in other ways.

As Storage

If the main problem with your mug is that it doesn’t insulate as well, consider using it to store small items. Here are a few ways you can use an old travel mug as storage:

  • Hold pens and pencils
  • Store extra socks
  • Keep cash hidden
  • Hold keys

You can fit a bunch of smaller items into a travel mug. 

Of course, what you put in it will depend on the size and shape of the mug. 

For example, pens go well in a thin, tall mug, but you may want a shorter mug for storing keys.

Furthermore, when it comes to holding cash or other valuables, a travel mug is great as it can look unassuming, so people may not think to look in it when searching for valuables.

As Decoration

Perhaps your travel mug broke and isn’t usable even for storage. If this is the case you can use it as a cute piece of decoration.

Therefore, consider painting it or adding glitter or another visual element.

Then, you can put the mug on your desk, dresser, or another place to display it. 

If there’s a crack, you can incorporate that into your design. Then, it won’t look so out of place when you show off the mug.

However, if you want to combine decor and storage, consider using the mug as a vase. As long as there isn’t a huge crack, you can place water and some flowers in the mug.

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Donate It

Maybe the mug is still in good condition, but you don’t want it or can’t use it.

Consider taking it to a local charity to donate for someone else to use. Like before recycling, you should clean the mug as best as you can so that it’s ready for the next owner.

If you don’t know where to take the mug, do some research on charities in your area and you may find a charity that desperately needs mugs and cups.

Sell It

Are you having trouble finding a charity to take your mug? You can try to sell it yourself using a tool like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. 

As long as the mug is usable, you may be able to get some extra cash for it.

This is a good option when you have too many travel mugs.

However, it will be easier to sell a mug in good condition, so try to avoid this option for broken mugs.

To learn more, you can also read our posts on whether you can recycle bamboo products, whether you can recycle metal water bottles, and whether you can recycle nail polish remover bottles.

Final Thoughts

Recycling travel mugs can be hard, especially if you get a plastic or metal mug. However, you can upcycle and reuse your old travel mugs. Then, you don’t have to throw them in the trash and you can use your travel mug multiple times before that happens.

Furthermore, most all travel mugs are recyclable and even biodegrdable. However, some that are made out of difficult metals or plastics will not be recyclable and most likely just have to be thrown in the trash.


  • 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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