Waste Types

In order to reduce waste, you first have to know which types of waste your facility produces. The two types of waste our Waste Reduction program addresses are organic and non-organic waste.

waste types table

Organic Waste

By way of guidance, "organic" waste is understood to mean waste material of animal or plant origin (e.g., food waste, leaves, plants and cooking oils), and it is expected that the majority of organic waste will be associated with food service.

Where Organic Waste is Generated pre-consumer food waste types chart

Organic waste refers to matter (in solid, liquid, or gaseous form) that Sodexo is legally, contractually or operationally responsible for (i.e., waste that is the result of Sodexo's activities) which has no further operational use without prior conversion to another form such as compost.

Non-Organic Waste

By way of guidance, "non-organic" waste is understood to mean waste material that is not immediately of plant or animal origin, such as paper, cardboard, glass, plastic, and metals (i.e., non-food waste) and it is expected that the majority of non-organic waste will be associated with packaging and disposables. Some non-organic waste may be associated with reusable or donatable items, such as electronics or furniture. Please check with local programs, or even programs within your site to properly dispose of these items.

Non-organic waste refers to matter (in solid, liquid, or gaseous form) that Sodexo is legally, contractually or operationally responsible for (i.e., which results from Sodexo's activities) and which has no further operational use without prior conversion.

Learn more about some of the most common non-organic waste types


Number 1 Plastics: PET or PETE (polyethylene terephthalate)

Found in: Soft drink, water and beer bottles, mouthwash bottles, peanut butter containers, salad dressing and vegetable oil containers, ovenable food trays

Recycling: Picked up through most curbside recycling programs

Recycled into: Polar fleece, fiber, tote bags, furniture, carpet, paneling, straps, (occasionally) new containers. Can only be recycled into items that are of lower quality.

Number 2 Plastics: HDPE (high density polyethylene)

Found in: Milk jugs, juice bottles, bleach, detergent and household cleaner bottles, shampoo bottles, some trash and shopping bags; motor oil bottles, butter and yogurt tubs, cereal box liners

Recycling: Picked up through most curbside recycling programs, although some allow only those containers with necks

Recycled into: Laundry detergent bottles, oil bottles, pens, recycling containers, floor tile, drainage pipe, lumber, benches, doghouses, picnic tables, fencing

Number 3 Plastics: V (Vinyl) or PVC

Found in: Window cleaner and detergent bottles, shampoo bottles, cooking oil bottles, clear food packaging, wire jacketing, medical equipment, siding, windows, piping

Recycling: Rarely recycled; accepted by some plastic lumber makers

Recycled into: Decks, paneling, mud flaps, roadway gutters, flooring, cables, speed bumps, mats

Number 4 Plastics: LDPE (low density polyethylene)

Found in: Squeezable bottles, bread, frozen food, dry cleaning and shopping bags, tote bags, clothing; furniture, carpet

Recycling: LDPE is not often recycled through curbside programs, but some communities will accept it. Plastic shopping bags can be returned to many stores for recycling.

Recycled into: Trash can liners and cans, compost bins, shipping envelops, paneling, lumber, landscaping ties, floor tile

Number 5 Plastics: PP (polypropylene)

Found in: Some yogurt containers, syrup bottles, ketchup bottles, caps, straws, medicine bottles

Recycling: Number 5 plastics can be recycled through some curbside programs. Must be washed thoroughly beforehand.

Recycled into: Signal lights, battery cables, brooms, brushes, auto battery cases, ice scrapers, landscape borders, bicycle racks, rakes, bins, pallets, trays

Number 6 Plastics: PS (polystyrene)

Found in: Disposable plates and cups, meat trays, egg cartons, carryout containers, aspirin bottles, compact disc cases

Recycling: Number 6 plastics can be recycled through some curbside programs but generally have a very low recycling rate. Avoid if possible.

Recycled into: Insulation, light switch plates, egg cartons, vents, rulers, foam packing, carryout containers

Number 7 Plastics: Miscellaneous

Found in: Three- and five-gallon water bottles, 'bullet-proof' materials, sunglasses, DVDs, cases for computers, smart phones and similar devices, signs and displays, certain food containers, nylon

Recycling: Number 7 plastics have traditionally not been recycled, though some curbside programs now take them.

Recycled into: Plastic lumber, custom-made products


Glass, especially glass food and beverage containers, can be recycled over and over again. In fact, 90 percent of recycled glass is used to make new containers. Recycled glass can also be used in kitchen tiles, counter tops, and wall insulation. Glass recycling has grown considerably in recent years through increased collection through curbside recycling programs and glass manufacturers' increased demand for recycled glass. Glass is a better alternative to plastic bottles and containers.


Steel is a versatile commodity that plays a major part in everyday life-including food cans, household containers, automobiles and office buildings. Steel makes up the largest category of metals in the municipal solid waste (MSW) and industrial waste streams. Steel has long been a recycled material throughout the world.


Aluminum cans are lightweight, convenient, portable, and keep beverages cold. They are often used to package soda, beer, and other beverages, and account for much of the packaging market for soft drinks and canned foods.

  • In 2016, consumers recycled 49.4 percent of aluminum products while the industry recycled 56.9 billion cans for an industry recycling rate of 63.9 percent
  • Aluminum can be recycled over and over again unlike plastics, and use very little energy to recycle. Nearly 75 percent of all aluminum ever produced in the U.S. is still being used today.

Individuals and haulers can deposit and collect aluminum used beverage containers (UBCs) at the curbside or community drop-off centers. From there, haulers take the cans to a material recovery facility (MRF), where workers separate aluminum cans from other food and beverage containers. Since most recovered UBCs are processed into new cans, it is important that processors generate only high-quality scrap. The recovered aluminum containers must be free from dirt and other foreign substances. The MRF or a scrap dealer then bales the cans, which brokers and can sheet manufacturers purchase.