Can You Recycle Peanut Butter Jars? (CLEAN Them First)


Most people just toss their whole peanut butter jar in the recycling after they’re done with it. The jar isn’t clean and the lid is still on.

This is not the right way to recycle peanut butter jars, and I’m guilty of it myself in the past.

If you do this, your peanut butter jar can contaminate other recycling. At best, the recycling center needs to spend more time and money cleaning what comes in – not the biggest deal.

But at worst, in many places, contaminated recycling heads straight to the landfill. 

And yes, other people may contaminate a shared recycling bin, but you need to fix your habits first.

The Correct Way to Recycle a Peanut Butter Jar

Keeping the label on is fine, but you need to do 2 things to make it easily recyclable:

  1. Take off the lid and recycle it separately (most peanut butter jar lids can be recycled).
  2. Rinse out the jar well to remove most of the leftover peanut butter

You don’t need to remove 100% of the peanut butter (so don’t spend too much time scrubbing away), but the more the better.

Containers should be clean, but don’t have to be spotless. –

Here’s the best way I’ve found to clean my jars.

Step 1: Scrape Out As Much As You Can

You’ve probably already done this, but if you haven’t, now’s the time.

typical empty peanut butter jar

Why waste good peanut butter anyways?

Step 2: Add in A Drop of Soap and Fill It About 1/4 With Water

Warm water is best here.

Add in one (or a few) drops of dish soap, and then fill the container somewhere between a quarter and a half of the way up.

peanut butter jar with soap water

Step 3: Shake Vigorously for 15 Seconds With the Lid On

You want to give it an initial shake now so that the soap a chance to get in contact with peanut butter on the side or lid.

Step 4: Soak For 10 Minutes, Shake Again and Rinse

I find that you need to soak for at least 5 minutes for this to work well. I usually leave it for 10 minutes or longer.

That should loosen up the peanut butter quite a bit, so when you shake again (15-30 seconds), it actually comes off.

You can see that most of the peanut butter on my original picture was on the bottom, but after shaking it, it’s basically all gone.

peanut butter jar after soaking

Finally, rinse it out a few times (don’t want to leave soap in it either), and then throw the lid and the jar into the recycling bin separately.

Here’s mine, ready to go:

clean peanut butter jar

One final note if there’s still peanut butter left: A quick once-over with a dish rag or sponge will remove most of it. If the peanut butter is stuck near the top or on the lid itself, you could soak the jar again upside down.

About the author

Dale Cudmore

Your friendly neighborhood vegan from Toronto. I've spent over 6 years as a freelance nutrition writer and researcher. During this time, I've tested over 50 vegan protein powders, and over 100 other types of vegan supplements.

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