Can you recycle tin foil? This is the mind-blowing way to do it approved by experts

We just found out how to properly recycle tin foil – and our minds are blown

Recycling bin made out of a wooden crate on wheels
(Image credit: EKO Home)

There are still many question marks surrounding the topic of recycling as guidelines differ not only from city to city but even from council to council within the same city. In short, recycling is confusing. One material that many still seem to be very confused about is how to recycle aluminium foil and whether it even is recyclable.

Firstly, you’ll be glad to know that tin foil is indeed recyclable so you won’t be making a wishcycling mistake when putting it in your recycling bin.

But where you might be (and probably are) going wrong is the form in which you put it in the bin. We don’t blame you as until now, we’ve been making the same mistake. And frankly, our minds are blown after hearing what the experts had to say on the matter.

How to recycle aluminium foil

Ecofly Recycling Bin 20+20L

(Image credit: EKO Home)

Despite its thin and flimsy appearance, tin foil is one of those household objects you might not know you can recycle. But what’s even more shocking is the shape it needs to be formed into in order to be effectively recyclable.

‘Not everyone may be aware that tin foil can be recycled alongside other tin products,’ says Dr. Adam Read, chief external affairs and sustainability officer at SUEZ recycling and recovery UK. ‘And the best way to recycle aluminium foil is to scrunch it into a ball before placing it in your recycling bin.’ 

What?! This is brand-new information.

Ball of tin foil

(Image credit: Getty Images/Liyao Xie)

He continues, ‘This scrunching method facilitates sorting by the machinery in our materials recycling facilities and the size of your aluminium foil ball is crucial for our facility's machinery; anything too small may be screened out as waste. Essentially, the larger your foil ball, the more easily it can be sorted for recycling.’

But there is a minimum size that a foil ball should be – that of a tennis ball.

‘You can build the size of the ball over time and when it is about the size of a tennis ball it can be placed in the recycling,’ says Andrew Haydon, director of Simply Plastics. ‘Doing this enhances its efficiency during the recycling process and conserves valuable resources.’

Scrunching your aluminium foil into a ball actually serves more purpose than one according to Dr. Adam. ‘Scrunching also serves as a good indicator of whether your shiny wrapper is aluminium foil or plastic film. If you scrunch the wrapper in your hand and it remains in a ball, it's recyclable foil; if it springs back, toss it into your refuse bin.’

That's another one to add to your many kitchen bin ideas.

Recycling bin made out of a wooden crate on wheels

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)


Can aluminium foil be recycled?

Yes, aluminium foil is widely recycled in most areas of the UK. 

‘Currently, aluminium foil and trays are widely recycled and accepted for recycling by many local authorities,’ says Dr. Adam.

Does aluminium foil go in the recycle bin?

Yes, aluminium foil can go in the recycle bin. Aluminium foil should be placed in your home recycling bin in the shape of a ball sized at least as big as a tennis ball.

You learn something new every day – today it’s how to properly recycle tin foil. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

Content Editor

Sara Hesikova has been a Content Editor at Ideal Home since June 2024, starting at the title as a News Writer in July 2023. Sara brings the Ideal Home’s readership features and news stories from the world of homes and interiors, as well as trend-led pieces, shopping round-ups and more, focusing on all things room decor, specialising in living rooms, bedrooms, hallways, home offices and dining rooms. Graduating from London College of Fashion with a bachelor’s degree in fashion journalism in 2016, she got her start in niche fashion and lifestyle magazines like Glass and Alvar as a writer and editor before making the leap into interiors, working with the likes of 91 Magazine and copywriting for luxury bed linen brand Yves Delorme among others. She feels that fashion and interiors are intrinsically connected – if someone puts an effort into what they wear, they most likely also care about what they surround themselves with.