Recycling is an eco-friendly thing to do - but it's also a business. For it to succeed, what you recycle and how you recycle matters. Here's how YOU can help make recycling work!
Top Tips for "Recycling Right!"
Don't put non-recyclable materials into your collection container. Don't waste space (and fuel and time) by filling up the recycling collection trucks with trash. It's difficult, inefficient and expensive for the sorting facility to deal with trash and it reduces the value of your recyclables. Review our list of "wishful recycling" mistakes at the bottom of this page or download our list of accepted items, and, when in doubt, throw it out!
Do not place recyclable materials inside plastic bags for collection. Recyclables have to be loose to be sorted. Bags are difficult to open, and if opened, the pieces of plastic bag can get tangled up in the sorting machinery. (And, trash bags aren't even recyclable!) Chances are good that if a bag of materials looks like trash, it will be treated like trash at the sorting center. (Please note that shredded paper should be placed inside a paper bag, and plastic bags marked with a recycling symbol should be gathered together inside a single, closed recyclable bag. For everything else...keep it loose!)
Separate your materials. Remember, it all has to be sorted and separated, so start the process by removing packing materials from boxes and pull your newspaper or magazine out of its plastic delivery bag.
Empty food and liquids out of containers.All containers should be empty for recycling! (Lids can be left on empty containers.)
Use our app to recycle right! From our website or downloaded onto your mobile device, the Recycle Coach program (formerly called MyWaste) can tell you what is recyclable, remind you when to recycle and provide a quick way to communicate with our office if you have questions about or issues with the recycling service.
No "tanglers". Please do not recycle things that can get wrapped up in the mechanical equipment at the sorting center. This means no wires, hoses, electrical cords, light strings, clothes hangers and no loose, individual plastic bags.
Do not recycle soiled or soft, low-grade paper products. This includes tissues, paper towels, paper plates, greasy pizza boxes and waxed paper.
Don't recycle disposable cups or other dining waste. No coffee or soda cups, Solo cups, paper plates, plastic cutlery, takeout containers, napkins, food wrappers, etc. No matter what "recycling" labels you may see, none of that is recyclable!
Plastics: Think "Bottles, Jars, Jugs & Tubs" only! Plastics are complicated, we know. To make your recycling efforts easier - and more accurate - don't look for numbers or recycling symbols, just recycle bottles (like for water, salad dressing or shampoo), jars (items with screw-on lids, like for peanut butter, medicines or hand cream), jugs (containers with a molded handle, like for milk or detergent) and tubs (items typically with detachable lids, like for margarine, yogurt or small buckets). At this time, most other plastic items can't be sorted, sold or recycled.
Don't recycle “clamshell” plastics. This means no hinged containers (including salad bins, produce, bakery or deli boxes, takeout containers, etc.) regardless of what number or symbol is imprinted on them. There's just no reliable market for these materials.
"Styrofoam" is not recyclable. Even if it has a "recycling symbol" on it. No packing materials, coffee cups or takeout containers.
Leave out plastic scraps and trash. This includes food wrappers (like for candy, granola bars or single-serve snacks) and food bags (like salad mix bags, potato chip bags and cereal box liners) as well as small, assorted bits of plastic (like loose caps, pens, toys, etc.)
It's Not as Complicated as it Might Seem...
We want clean paper and packaging. That's It. The curbside recycling program is primarily designed to collect paper and packaging materials (like cans and those bottles, jars, jugs and tubs we mentioned above). So, other random objects, like scrap metal, electronics, dining ware, toys, food, textiles, yard waste, etc., should never be placed in a blue recycling cart or bin. There may be other recycling programs that can accept some of those things, such as our recycling drop-off site.
Why Isn't Everything Recyclable?
The list of what should be placed in a blue bin is determined by the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) that sorts and sells your recyclables. If there isn't a process to sort an item or the MRF doesn't have a reliable market for the material, it doesn't do any good to place that item in your recycling cart. In fact, it can actually do great harm to the recycling process. To learn about MRFs and to understand the global impact of contamination (non-recyclables in your blue bin), use the "Resources to Learn More" on this page.
And remember, when in doubt, don't recycle, throw it out!
Avoid "Wishful Recycling."
Even avid recyclers can make mistakes, sometimes by placing things that might seem recyclable into a blue bin. Here are the most common items that cause cart contamination... None of these things are recyclable:
disposable cups (like Solo cups, fast food soda cups, coffee cups)
rotisserie chicken, takeout and other heat-resistant containers
plastic produce and salad bins
bakery and deli containers
food bags (such as potato chip bags, cereal box liners and mixed salad bags)
food wrappers (like for granola bars, candy, single-serve snacks, etc.)
toys, pens and other non-packaging plastic items
anything made of "Styrofoam"
shiny/metallic paper packaging, cards or gift wrap
soiled paper or greasy cardboard
soft paper products, like napkins, tissues and paper towels