Recycling Correctly

Customers tell us frequently that recycling is confusing. It does not have to be if you follow a few simple guidelines.

Start with the basics – Recycle the Core 4

  • Clean glass bottles and jars
  • Clean plastic bottles and jugs
  • Clean paper and cardboard
  • Clean metal cans

How to use the Blue Cart

For all other items or materials, use the search tool to learn how to dispose of almost anything. Putting unaccepted items in the blue recycling cart is called contamination. See why contamination is a big problem.  

What you put in the blue cart matters but also how you put it in is important, too.

  • Do not place recyclables in bags. They go into the blue cart loose.
  • Flatten out all cardboard.
  • Paper is accepted only if it is not food-soiled or otherwise unclean.
  • Recyclables must be clean. If an item such as a peanut butter or honey jar cannot be rinsed out easily, it is better to put it in the brown trash cart.
  • Remove all lids, even plastic ones. Those can be put in the brown trash cart.
  • Never use your blue recycling cart as overflow for trash. Call 3-1-1 for an extra trash collection.

Tricky Items

  • Styrofoam® - All Styrofoam, from fast-food containers to packing peanuts, goes in the brown trash cart. This material breaks apart in the recycling machinery during the process.
  • Diapers - Diapers, including adult diapers and pet pads, are trash. They must be picked out of the conveyor by hand which is dangerous and a health hazard. The City incurs a fee from the recycling facility for diapers.
  • Certain Types of Paper - Anything that is foiled, glittered or varnished is not accepted.
  • Tanglers - Regardless of what they are made of, anything that get caught in the gears at the recycling facility are not accepted. Examples include hoses, cords, ropes, ribbons, string and yarn.
  • Single-use plastic bags - We recommend:
    • Do not use them at all. Shop with reusable bags.
    • Take them back to the retail store where you got them.
    • Never put them loose in the blue recycling cart.
    • It is better to place them in the brown trash cart.
    • Technically, they are accepted but only if several are bundled together into a ball. That bundle then goes into one single bag which should be tied, and the single bundle can go into the blue cart. (not recommended)

Recycling Videos

The DOs and DON'Ts of Recycling

The Problem with Styrofoam®

Recycling Tanglers

Popular Videos

Our Recycling Campaigns

We produce videos and commercials to promote recycling and composting and how to use the carts correctly.