The Clamshell — things I didn’t know were trash

Tubs of spinach — trash.


Strawberry clamshells — trash.


Tomato clamshells — trash.

According to Wikipedia, “a clamshell is a one-piece container consisting of two halves joined by a hinge area which allows the structure to come together to close.” Clamshells usually come with a resin code, so I always thought they were recyclable.  However, my apartment recycling guidelines claimed otherwise.

Landfill poster

The clamshell is destined for the landfill? I was a bit confused. Clamshells seem like perfectly good plastic. So, why can’t they be recycled? I asked the Office of Sustainability here on the Princeton Campus and I was given two reasons:

  1. Recyclers have a hard time selling recycled clamshells because manufacturers don’t want them. Recycling is market driven, so if there isn’t demand, the material isn’t recyclable.
  2. Clamshells can jam recycling equipment due to their shape. Apparently, the shape of a container is more important than the resin code. Most clamshells have a resin code of #1. However, this is not the same #1 as plastic bottles, which is confusing.

Check with your local recycler, but you should probably be throwing your clamshells in the trash.