Recyclable Trash... Where Does it Go After You Throw it Away?

Have you thought about where trash goes after we consume and dispose of it?

Trash… things we no longer need or want for consumption. Even though you may not want them anymore, some of this waste can be recycled and used again.

Aluminium Loop wants to invite you to learn about recyclable waste and the current prices for different types of recyclable materials. Generally, recyclable waste is categorized into 5 main types:


1. Paper
  • The purchase price ranges from 3.6 – 5.5 THB/kg.
  • Fruits box paper, collected book paper, hard box paper, and A-grade black/white paper sheets are priced higher in that order, from 3.6 up to 5.5 THB.
  • Milk cartons and juice boxes have no buyback value due to their composite materials of paper, plastic, and aluminium foil, which are challenging to recycle. However, some research institutions are trying to invent ways to separate paper and aluminium from these boxes to solve the recycling issue.
2. Glass
  • The purchase price ranges from 0.3 – 19 THB.
  • Brown beer bottles are priced at 0.3 THB per bottle and 10 THB per box, green beer bottles at 0.5 THB per bottle and 14 THB per box, white liquor bottles have the highest price at 19 per box (24 bottles), and glass shards are priced at 1.55-1.8 THB/kg (depending on the color).
3. Plastic
  • The purchase price ranges from 0.2 – 13 THB/kg.
  • Clear PET bottles (screen printed) are valued at 0.2 THB, while non-screen printed are valued at 9 THB. Cloudy white HDPE bottles are priced at 5 THB, and blue PVC pipes have the highest purchase price at 13 THB.
4. Non-ferrous Metals
  • The purchase price ranges from 0.5 – 254 THB/kg.
  • Aluminium drink cans are valued up to 41 THB, aluminium lids are valued between 12-27 THB (depending on condition), aluminium alloys at 29 THB, and large copper wires at 254 THB.
5. Steel
  • The purchase price ranges from 3.2 – 11.4 THB/kg.
  • Steel nails are priced up to 9.3 THB, steel from car parts at 7.5 THB, and steel cans like ready-to-eat food cans are valued at 5 THB.


*Data as of May 2, 2021:

** Prices may vary by store.

It can be seen that all types of trash mentioned have value, depending on whether you can sort it correctly or not. Even though some types of trash, such as milk cartons and juice boxes, don’t have a buyback value, you still play a crucial role in the recycling process.


For high-value recyclables like aluminium and other non-ferrous metals, many might be surprised to learn how close these items are to you. Not considering valuable metals like copper and brass that can fetch up to 200 baht, aluminium drink cans also have a significantly higher buyback price compared to other packaging types. The current buyback price for aluminium cans is around 41-50 baht/kg, higher than other drink packaging like beer bottles at 10-19 baht/box and plastic bottles at 0.2-10 baht/kg.


After sorting, different types of trash go into different recycling processes. All trash should be cleaned first because contaminated trash can’t be recycled and often ends up in landfills or incinerators. Let’s look at some examples of the recycling process:

1. Paper Recycling

Paper to be recycled shouldn’t be contaminated with oil. It’s then sorted by type, processed to remove ink, pulped into a slurry, and mixed with new paper pulp before being heated and made into recycled paper products such as notebooks, books, beverage packaging boxes, cardboard boxes, or even tissue paper. It’s heated at temperatures above 200 degrees Celsius to ensure cleanliness and safety.

2. Glass Recycling

Firstly, glass is sorted by color—clear, brown, and green—smashed into small pieces, cleaned with chemicals, and then melted down to be blown into new bottles, packaging, or decorative items. Glass in good condition can be reused after being properly cleaned.

3. Plastic Recycling

Labels are removed, and the plastic is flattened to save space. It’s sorted by type and then goes through a recycling process depending on its subsequent use, such as being broken down by heat back into petroleum for fuel or reprocessed by melting into plastic pellets for use in products like film, food containers, or car parts. However, plastic can only be recycled 2-3 times due to certain limitations, such as plastics contaminated with dirt that can’t be cleaned and are not recyclable.

4. Aluminium Recycling

Aluminium is all around us, from window frames and car parts to laptops. Here, we’ll discuss the recycling of aluminium drink packaging, which involves crushing them into small pieces, melting them into large aluminium logs, and then rolling them into sheets to be turned back into clean, safe aluminium cans. And importantly, aluminium can be recycled endlessly.

5. Steel Scrap Recycling

Typically, steel scrap must be melted down before being formed into rods or sheets. However, steel food cans are often coated with tin to resist corrosion from food, which requires compacting, chemically separating the tin from the steel, and then melting them into separate tin and steel rods to be used in products like new cans, construction materials, or car parts.

The waste that seems useless to us can still be utilized in industries to meet ongoing consumer demands. Waste isn’t something distant from us; it can come back to us in unexpected ways.

Aluminium Loop wants to encourage everyone to see the value in sorting waste. Some might think that the waste collectors will sort it out later, but wouldn’t it be better if you could help make their job easier?

Everything starts with you!

– Recycle Day Thailand, กล่องนมรีไซเคิลได้หรือไม่, 2019
– River Group, Recycled Paper Products 
– Prodigy Public, การรีไซเคิลพลาสติก
– 7 Things You Didn’t Know About Plastic (and Recycling), National Geographic 
– กรมอุตสาหกรรมพื้นฐานและการเหมืองแร่, กลุ่มของเสียครัวเรือน: ผลิตภัณฑ์เหล็กเคลือบดีบุก