Target Recycling: What You Can and Cannot Recycle in the Store

When you hear the phrase Target recycling, you may think about buying recycling bins and other supplies at Target. And you would be right–sort of. 

I mean, of course Target sells recycling bins and things made from recycled materials. However, what I’m referring to here is the recycling that you can do for free at Target stores.

Didn’t know you could take things to Target to be recycled? Prepare to be amazed at the many things that you can, in fact, dispose of here and do it in an eco-friendly and responsible way

recycling at target
The recycling bins I saw at the front of my local Target. Photo credit: Leah Ingram.

What can you recycle at Target

The first time I realized that you could recycle something for free at Target was when I learned about the car seat trade-in event at Target. It happens each May.

In return for recycling an old car seat, Target gives you a coupon to save money on a new car seat or other baby supplies.

As I wrote about in this article about the Target car seat trade-in event, you’ll get a 20% off coupon in the Target Circle app for recycling a car seat.

Then, you can use that discount coupon to buy a single new car seat, stroller or other baby gear.

You can drop off your used car seat during this event at the boxes you’ll usually find at the front of the store near Guest Services.

Find out about setting up a Target baby registry.

How does Target recycle car seats

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According to this Target FAQ, here is what happens with old car seats that are brought to Target:

“Materials from the old car seats will be recycled by Target’s partners to create new products such as pallets, plastic buckets and construction materials such as steel beams and carpet padding.”

Since starting this car seat recycling program in 2016, Target says it has recycled more than 2 million car seats.

Also, the program has helped to recycle nearly 33 million pounds of car seat materials.

Target partners with Terracycle, which sells Zero Waste Boxes that you can use at your home or office to recycle items that might not qualify for curbside recycling.

Car seats are hardly the only thing that Target is recycling for its customers. I’ve outlined everything that I’ve personally recycled at my local store. Plus, I’ve researched and fact checked what the store will recycle for you.

Finally, I’ve included details on exactly how you can take advantage of the free recycling services at Target.

Target plastic bag recycling

Target’s in-store recycling kiosk includes a place for you to recycle plastic bags. And you don’t just have to recycle bags from Target there.

No one is stopping you from bringing any plastic, single-use bags to the store to be recycled.

Many other retailers offer plastic bag recycling. I’ve seen (and used) bins at:

  • Kohl’s
  • Nordstrom Rack
  • Grocery stores
  • Lowe’s
recycling at lowes
I took this picture at my local Lowe’s store to show what you can recycle there. Photo credit: Leah Ingram.

Finally, if you bring your own bag to Target, you’ll get a five-cent discount for each bag you use. This works at self checkout as well as at regular checkout lanes. 

However, it’s not clear if this discount still applies in states where single-use bags are banned. There, if you don’t bring your own bag, you pay 10 cents for each bag that Target provides.

This is what the reusable bags look like (and cost 10 cents) when I would get with my Target Drive Up orders in Maine.

target reusable bag
Reusable bag from Target that came with my Drive Up Order. Photo credti: Leah Ingram.

Bottle and can recycling

Just like your curbside service, Target will recycle bottles and cans for you. This includes aluminum, plastic and glass, such as soda cans or water bottles.

Even better, if you live in a state with a bottle deposit bill, take those containers to a redemption center to get your money back. This article explains how the Clynk system works at Hannaford supermarkets in Maine and New York.

Printer cartridge recycling at Target

In addition to recycling printer cartridges, Target can take your small electronics. They describe these as MP3 players and GPS devices, which seems a bit outdated, doesn’t it? I mean, don’t we all just use our phones to navigate and to listen to music?

Also, if you’re a Staples customer, you can get cash money, in the form of rewards certificates, by taking your printer cartridges there to be recycled. I’ve earned anywhere from $2 to $5 per cartridge I recycled at Staples, depending on special or promotions the store may be having.

Target electronics recycling

Speaking of small electronics, you’ll do better taking advantage of the Target Tech Trade In program. It isn’t available at every Target store, though.

When it is, though, you have to visit the electronics department at Target and find out if they’ll take an electronics trade in person. You can also start the process online.

Like other device trade in programs, you’ll need to answer a few questions about your device, including what its condition is. Then, you’ll get a prepaid label to ship it to Target’s trade-in partner.

Once they determine the value, you’ll get a Target electronic gift card for the amount that they offer you for your old device. Of course the downside is once you’ve mailed it in, it’s gone. It’s not like you can shop around for a better offer.

On the other hand, this is how Gazelle works as well as the Amazon Trade-In Program.

Amazon will take back your old devices and give you an Amazon gift card for what they determine is the value of that device. Also, you’ll get 25% off a new device in certain situations.

What you cannot recycle at Target

I was surprised to learn that you cannot recycle plastic hangers at Target. In fact, you can’t recycle plastic store hangers at all.

That’s because hangers are made from many different kinds of plastic that are incompatible in a recycling environment.

So, what’s a better way to dispose of plastic hangers if you can’t recycle them? Well, of course, you can throw them out but that’s really a last resort.

One, you can reuse them in your laundry room to hang up items you want to air dry.

Two, see if you can donate them to Goodwill or a local thrift store. 

Three, give them away on a local Buy Nothing Group.

Also, it appears that Target no longer recycles batteries.

Where to find Target recycling bins in store

Most often you’ll find Target’s guest recycling center at the front of your local store. Their location has varied based on different stores I’ve visited. 

Sometimes I’ve seen them along the wall between the men’s and women’s restrooms or outside the family restroom.

In other stores this recycling center is near guest services, as were the car seat recycling collection boxes that I photographed at the Target store in South Portland, Maine.

recycle your car seat at target box

Finally, at some Target stores outside Pittsburgh, these recycling bins were in the vestibule on the way out of the store. 

When in doubt, stop at guest services and ask where you can drop off your recyclables. I’ve always found the staff at Target to be helpful and friendly. 

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