Recycling Rules of Thumb

If you Find your Recycling "Gross", it's Probably too Contaminated to be Recycled

We have heard before that residents do not want to go through their recycling because it is "gross". Dirty items are not recyclable, so when we hear that we automatically know their recycling is contaminated. Soiled materials are not accepted in the recycling because:
1) uncleanly material can affect worker health and safety,
2) dirty items can soil other items (such as paper) and make them not recyclable,
3) these items cost the facility and City extra money to process and dispose of than if it was put in the trash.

Plastic bottles, jugs and tubs are the ONLY plastic items that belong in the recycling bin

If it's any other sort of plastic, it cannot be recycled in your green recycling cart. That includes shrink wrap, bubble wrap, storage containers, toys, toothbrushes... and any of the hundreds of thousands of other items that are made of plastic.

If you Can't Clean it, Throw it out

Examples include aerosol bottles (whipped cream, oil sprays, etc.), peanut butter containers with PB that won't come out, very greasy pizza boxes, empty paint cans (the paint residue is no good!)

Items Made of Multiple Materials are Most Likely not Recyclable

You may not always notice it, but some items we buy are created/layered with different materials. Multi-material items are not easily recyclable and in our recycling system is not accepted most of the time.
 Here are some examples of mixed-material items that are not recyclable:
  • Tetra Pak containers aka multilayered cartons - made of paper, plastic and metal, which makes them hard to recycle and is not accepted in our recycling stream. Tetra Pak take-back programs do exist, please search for these online.
  • Gift Wrap/Wrapping Paper - some of these items are infused with glitter, metal and plastic, making them non-recyclable. If it is just plain wrapping paper, it can go into the recycling.
  • Celebration Cards - with cards getting so intricate these days, it seems like they are half paper half glitter/metal/plastic/electronics. For that reason, any card with pop-outs, that sings a song or is overly glittery or shiny cannot go into the recycling.
  • Spiral Notebooks - the metal part of the spiral notebook must be removed from the paper if you want to recycle it!
  • Milk or Juice Cartons - these paper & wax-coated items are not currently recyclable in our waste stream. 
  • Canisters - made from typically cardboard and metal, these items are not recyclable because of their combined materials. Some examples of these include Pringles cans, coffee cans, frozen juice canisters, and nuts canisters. In theory, if you separated the cardboard from the metal, those items would be recyclable and you could put it in your recycling cart.
  • Coffee cups - many of them are lined with plastic to prevent the paper from disintegrating when filled with hot liquid. The plastic lining - and the beverage soiling the paper - makes these items not recyclable.
    • and many other items not listed here

Put a Lid on it!
After your bottles/jars/tubs/etc. are empty and clean, please reattach the lid to that item! You can do this for any combination of items (metal top on glass jar, for example), as it is better to reseal the cap if the cap is very small than to throw it into the recycling loose.

Must be > 2 inches in Diameter
Items that you put into the recycling must be greater than 2 inches in diameter in order to be recycled. This is is because the facility that these items go to is not set up to sort items that small, thus they will fall out of the system and become trash or potentially jam up the machinery. Examples of these include: caps & lids, 2 oz sauce containers, aluminum button pins, and shredded paper.