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Is A Double Edge Razor Blade Really Recyclable?

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One of the tenants of old school wet shaving is that since blades don’t have plastic parts they are easy to recycle and it’s friendlier to the environment. A recent experience has shown me…maybe not.

A Conversation

I was having a conversation with a guy in my municipality’s waste management office…OK we were talking about garbage pickup.

At one point the conversation turned to what I did for a living so naturally I started talking about old school shaving.  And one of the benefits being the blades could be recycled.

He gave me an odd look, “We don’t recycle double edge razor blades in the city.”

Wait, what?

“No,” he continued, “we consider it hazardous waste. In fact, I’m not sure the service we use twice a year for our hazardous waste collection events will take them.  Give them a call.”

So I did.  And they don’t.

They said it’s just trash and to throw them away.

Mind. Blown.

I live in a relatively small city so I called the larger city just south of me.

Similar story: just throw ’em away.

Then I called a regional bulk scrap metal recycler.  “How many tons ya got?” he asked.  I said never mind….

I made a few more calls to large recycling centers that specialize in household items around the country and discovered there is absolutely no consistency.  A few take them without question.  A few consider them as hazardous waste.

And a lot don’t take them at all.

Collecting More Data

I jumped on Sharpologist’s Shaving Information List and asked subscribers to check their local municipalities.  I only got a handful of responses (about 50) so the data may not be as meaningful as it could but I did find it interesting.

About 30% of the respondents said their municipality accepted DE blades.  Another 30% said that DE blades were considered hazardous waste.  And the rest were told it was just trash.

The Practical Side

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Now, as a practical matter, if you throw your DE/SE blades in metal blade bank and put them in with the rest of the metallic recycling, the odds are no one will be the wiser.  Do bear in mind that blades still have sharp edges even after you’re finished with them: I’m told most personnel at recycling centers wear puncture-resistant gloves when separating items, but still….

And, again as a practical matter, a DE/SE blade ending up in a landfill won’t be as bad as a plastic head razor cartridge–the blade will deteriorate relatively quickly in the grand scheme of things.

Or you can go “old school” to get rid of blades and use that slot at the back of your bathroom medicine cabinet.  If your bathroom doesn’t have one Fine Accoutrements offers a wall mount panel that does the same job:

But don’t assume that DE/SE blades are routinely recyclable.  If you live in an area that has a local recycling authority, give them a call and ask about it.  Make sure they know the difference between an all-metal razor blade and a metal/plastic razor cartridge.

Then let me know what your find out by CLICKING/TAPPING HERE (short Google Form survey).  I’ll update this article if I can get more data.

Meanwhile, what do you do with your used all-metal razor blades?  Leave a comment below.


Shave tutor and co-founder of sharpologist. I have been advocating old-school shaving for over 20 years and have been featured in major media outlets including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and Lifehacker. Also check out my content on Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!View Author posts

15 thoughts on “Is A Double Edge Razor Blade Really Recyclable?”

  1. I live near Springfield MO. I took around 300 blades in a ziplock bag to CMC recycling. They wanted to get someone to figure the price of scrap to give me. I said, “not worth $$, can I just leave them to be recycled?” They took the blades, no sweat.

    CMC recycling’s website shows several locations around the country.

  2. I put my used blades in the rear of the Feather Blades box (the hidden compartment for used blades). Then waste.

  3. I started using the slot in the medicine cabinet. Then I started finding some on the basement floor underneath the bathroom. Now I think I’ll just stick ’em in a 3lb coffee can and see how long it takes to fill it.

    1. I put my blades in an a emtyable blade bank. When I have enough blades, I wrap them in about 2 or 3 layers of duct tape. Sometimes I put them in recyclables and sometimes in the trash, because of the duct tape. I just want to make sure no one can cut themselves on the blades.

  4. I put them in an old Chinese soup container. When it gets full I take it to a hospital. Seal it with tape. I have also taken it to a counseling place for drug users. Got the idea from web site that is for drug users to dispose of used needles. Both places take it. I got the idea I was not the only one that has given them old blades. As far as I know they have they get sent off to a medical waste company. I am pretty sure they get recycled along with the needles.

  5. I have a yellow Sharps Collector I use to dispose of my used syringes (for methotrexate). When it’s time to return the Collector to the pharmacy I include my used blades that I have saved. Perhaps I will ask the pharmacy next time if they accept the blades that I add to the Collector. They haven’t said anything before.


  6. I put mine in a coffee can and stored them for a few years. I I took them to two recycling centers in Florida and was told they do not recyle them no matter how they were packaged or sealed. My oldest son had the same experience in MA and my youngest in AZ.

  7. Bulk gum dispensers made to fit the cup holders in cars have become my source of many wet-shaving tools/apparatus. Shaven blades, cleaning alcohol for DE razor heads, brush holders to soak/soften pre-shave, distilled water dispensers when I don’t want a whole gallon jug on my sink countertop.
    One gum dispenser has over 5 years of blades in it, and there’s still room for another year or so.
    I have the old medicine chest razor slot…I’ve used both. I think when I recycle the dispenser, I’m going to go back to the old-fashioned way of using the slot. I’m not going to be demolishing this building anytime soon. Since it was erected in the 1940’s, and I’m only renting.

  8. Packaged right they will accept them – no exposed edges – but I use a one litre sharps container. When that is full – in about 25-30 years time, at the current rate – I can hand it in at the nearest pharmacy (or build myself a back yard furnace and cast some steel ingots of questionable quality).

  9. I place mine in a used Altoids mints metal container and just toss it in the trash when full. It lasts me several years before it is full.

    1. Heh, I use an old Altoids tin to store my currently-in-use blades (DE and SE). Glue a couple flat magnets to the bottom of the tin and Bob’s yer Uncle.
      For used blades I initially used a sealed up spaghetti sauce jar with a slot cut into the lid. After over six years of use, stored in an under sink drawer, I took the 3/4 full jar to the pharmacy for disposal. They brought out a large sharps container and told me to empty the jar into it.
      I should’ve asked if there was a smaller, more drawer-friendly container I could take home but settled on as a replacement an old plastic aspirin bottle to sit in the drawer. Should take a little less than six years to get that bugger 3/4 full.

  10. Thanks for this. I have always assumed that DE blades are hazardous waste because someone at a recycling center has to sort through the stuff they collect. I use a small blade bank that takes more than two years to fill, and dump the whole thing in the trash. It’s still a lot better for the environment than cartridges.

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