Trash Tutorial: What about prescription bottles and K-cups

Q: Can empty prescription vials be recycled. I’m unsure and alternate between putting them in the trash and putting them in the recycle. What about the caps?
— Phyllis M.

A: Yes, empty prescription bottles fit squarely in the plastic container rule of thumb: the item must be a container that holds fewer than two gallons. The plastic cap should be replaced on the bottle as well in order to be recycled. Plastic caps go back on plastic bottles; metal lids should be recycled separately from their container. And all containers should be empty and rinsed before being recycled.
Q: Can “K-cups” be recycled ?
— Bob M.
A: No, not as long as the cup is left intact. K-cups, and similar single serve beverage cups are a multi-product package. There’s the plastic cup, a fiber filter, the beverage base (coffee grounds, tea, cocoa, etc), and a foiled plastic “lid.” If you would like to separate the package components into their individual pieces, only the plastic outer cup is recyclable (empty of course). The fiber filter and grounds are compostable, but the foiled plastic lid is trash.
Q: My question is how and where to dispose of or recycle nail polish?
Thank you,
A: Nail polish is considered a household hazardous waste (HHW), and as such can be brought to any Eco-Depot collection event. Nail polish bottles should not be recycled in a curbside bin or cart unless they are completely empty. Other common HHWs usually found inside the home (as opposed to in a shed or garage) are nail polish removers, flea collars and flea dips, oven cleaner, insect repellent, and mercury thermometers.
Anything with a skull and crossbones on the label, or that cautions you to use in a well-ventilated area is considered household hazardous waste. Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation (RIRRC) holds over 40 Eco-Depot events each year around the state. The full schedule can be viewed at We do ask that you make an appointment so that traffic flow at the events is managed efficiently. As always, please call or email RIRRC with any questions about what is or isn’t, considered HHW.



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