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General Recycling Guidelines

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Here are five easy guidelines to get you started with recycling.  

  1. Check the material.
  2. Eliminate hazardous waste.
  3. Get rid of the grease.
  4. Look for the mixed up items.
  5. Pluck out the baggies and foam.

Check the material.  Recyclable materials are generally categorized by the main material from which they are made: paper, plastic, glass or metal.  So a first rule of thumb is that if the item is not made from one of those materials, then it is not recyclable.  This rules out things like clothing, for example, which can be donated.  It also rules out plants, which should go in a green yard waste cart.

Eliminate hazardous waste.  The next question to consider is whether your paper, plastic, glass or metal item is hazardous.  Electronics, medical sharps, and batteries may have paper, plastic, glass and metal parts, but they are not recyclable.  There are special disposal guidelines for hazardous waste.  It should never be recycled.

Get rid of the grease. Eliminate anything that has a food or greasy residue still on it.  So empty and lightly rinse recyclables, and do not include things like pizza boxes and paper plates with food soaked into them.  Containers from personal, household or vehicle care that can be rinsed completely are fine, but again, nothing with an oily residue.

Look for mixed up items.  Next, learn to eliminate the odd items with mixed components.  Plastic toys, dishware, aerosol cans, tires and hoses are examples of items that cannot be recycled because they contain mixed components. Donate these instead.

Pluck out the baggies and foam.  Finally, eliminate plastic bags (or anything that looks like one) and polystyrene foam (or similar).  This includes everything from dry-cleaning wraps to foam egg cartons.  They are not recyclable.


These guidelines apply to materials collected by the City or its contractors.  While the list of acceptable items should be very similar for private haulers, we encourage you to check your contract and call your vendor to be sure.

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