What IS Recyclable?

RECYCLING DOESN’T WORK.  Only about 13% gets recycled (on a global level).  That’s not to say that we should stop.  In fact, the world must strive for higher rates. Here is a map of recycling stations on Koh Samui.  Hover over each station to see a description of what they take.  Separate your materials.  Most take the basics (aluminum/glass/plastic bottles).  All recycling stations are different.  Some will take your other stuff, and some won’t.  A bit frustrating.  

If you’d rather not take your recyclables to a station, please consider separating it for the people who collect on the streets.  It’s extra income for them.  Just leave your recyclables on the street in separate bags.

HOW IT WORKS:  Tessabahn collects trash every day.  The workers will rip open the bags looking for recyclables which they can keep and sell.  The job is in high demand because of this.  A dirty job as I rarely see them using gloves. But we can help make their job easier by separating recyclables

Recycling Stations

It’s difficult to understand what is recyclable in the world.  There are few real guidelines anywhere.  It’s even more difficult to find this information on Koh Samui, let alone Thailand.  You can do some research if you like. PET, HDPE, PVC, LDPE… On Koh Samui, you literally need to take your materials to see if they will take it. But you will know for the future.  It takes vigilance, and persistence.

The ones that are obvious to us are plastic water bottles, aluminum (aluminium), glass bottles, and cardboard.

But what about metal, electronics, organic material (compostables), etc.?

Let’s dive in.


The obvious one is the plastic water bottle.  All recyclable until they are not.  One bottle can be recycled 1-3 times, then it’s trash.  A bit confused on this one.  There’s a “dot” at the bottom of a plastic water bottle which indicates it can NOT be recycled any more.  Yet some places take it anyway.  Other plastic containers like peanut butter had the “dot” and they would NOT take it.  Confusing?  You bet.  Golden rule is take it to the recycling station and see what happens.

Other plastics/plastic containers

Some containers can be recycled.  Like the ones on the right.  The rule of thumb is if it makes a crackly, crunchy sound or (splits), it’s not recycleable.  The ones pictured ARE recycleable. Flexible and retain their shape when twisting or bending.  Not all stations will take it.  You just need to find the ones that do.  But, it’s best not to get this stuff at all.

Then you have the broken plastic chairs, bowls, kids toys, etc.  Again you will need to find the recycling station that takes it.  Most do, but they’re not thrilled about it.  Don’t expect any money for it.  But it’s always better recycle as opposed to putting in the garbage.  Be vigilant

Glass bottles

Glass can be recycled indefinitely.  Enough said.  I try to separate the dark and clear bottles, but they don’t seem to mind if it’s all together.


Aluminum or Aluminium can be turned into many different thingss so it’s life span is pretty much indefinite.  It also pays the most when you bring it to the recycling stations.  I wish we had water in a can here.  Or water in glass bottles for that matter.


The problem with this stuff is when it gets wet, no one wants it.  Leave it for collectors to grab, but do it when the weather is good.  Otherwise, take it to a recycling station.  


Water heaters, stoves, etc. Anything made of metal.  You will never see metal in the street trash piles on Koh Samui.  Very valuable to the collectors.  


We’re talking about cables, phones, gadgets, all electronics.  Again.  Some recycling stations take it, some don’t.  Check the Map and hover to see which ones take electronic stuff.  The alternative is to bring to the Eco-Waste boxes.  I found two.  One at the Post Office in Nathon, and one at AIS at Central Festival.  Maybe used batteries as well.  I’ll confirm and update soon.