Don't Just Recycle, Recycle Right!

Recycling combines environmental and economic interests with technology and industry. And YOU'RE the start of it all! For our recycling program to succeed, what you recycle and how you recycle it matters. Here's how YOU can help make recycling work!
Top Tips for "Recycling Right!"

  1. Don't put non-recyclable materials into your collection container. About 20% of what is set out for collection isn't actually recyclable. Visualize it this way: for every ten recycling trucks, imagine that two of them are actually just filled with nothing but trash. Don't waste space in your cart, the collection crew's fuel, and the sorting center's time by placing trash in a blue cart. It's difficult, inefficient and expensive to try to remove and dispose of items that can't be recycled. 
    Here's the thing- many households may not realize that what they are putting in a blue bin is, in fact, trash. Do not look for "recycling symbols" or numbers on a package to be your guide, as those icons do not represent local program rules, regional recycling capabilities or current recycling market realities. 
    Please periodically review our list of accepted items.  Ask us, check the Recycle Coach app...or, when in doubt, just throw it out- in the trash. We all wish more things were recyclable, but wishfully placing materials in a blue cart doesn't make them makes them expensive trash.
  2. Do not place recyclable materials inside plastic bags for collection. Recyclables absolutely must loose to be sorted. Bags are difficult to open, and if opened, the pieces of plastic bag get tangled up in the sorting machinery. (And, trash bags aren't even a recyclable material!)  Bagged materials look like trash and will be treated like trash and disposed at the sorting center.  Even if the bag is clear or blue or "biodegradable". No bags!
  3. Separate your materials. Remember, materials have to be sorted and separated to be sold for recycling. You can help start the process by removing packing materials from boxes, removing your newspaper or magazine out of its plastic delivery bag and please don't stuff different types of materials inside each other (such as filling cereal boxes with pet food cans). Keep it loose!
  4. Empty food and liquids out of containers. All containers must be empty for recycling! If you want to help out even more, a quick rinse of dirty containers helps keep the paper and cardboard in your cart clean- and more valuable.
  5. 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.

Common Recycling Mistakes:

  • NO BAGS. Plastic bags are not recyclable in our program (not even "bags of bags"). The good news is that there are more than one hundred drop-off locations around the county that accept a very wide array of bags and similar materials for recycling. Please visit:
  • No "tanglers".  Please do not recycle things that can get wrapped up in  the mechanical equipment at the sorting center. This means no strings, wires, hoses, electrical cords, light strands, 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. Those items are at the end of their useful life for recycling, but some might be composted at home!
  • Don't recycle disposable cups or other dining waste.  No coffee or soda cups of any kind, no Solo cups, straws, paper plates, plastic cutlery, takeout containers, napkins, food wrappers, etc. No matter what "recycling" labels you may see, none of that stuff is recyclable!
  • Plastics: Think "Bottles, Tubs, Jars and Jugs" 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 or coffee, and also includes small buckets). At this time, most other plastic items can NOT be sorted, sold or recycled.
    • Don't recycle “clamshell” plastics. This means no hinged containers (including produce, bakery or deli boxes, takeout containers, and the bins that mixed salad greens come in, etc.) regardless of what number or symbol is imprinted on them. We do not have access to sorting technology or a reliable market for these materials.
    • "Styrofoam" is not recyclable. Even if it has a "recycling symbol" on it. No foam packing materials, coffee cups or takeout containers.
    • Leave out plastic wrappers, 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, balloons, pens, toys, etc.)

It's Not as Complicated as it Might Seem...

We want clean paper and recyclable packaging. That's It.
The curbside recycling program is primarily designed to collect, sort and sell clean 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, lumber, household goods, 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.)

Need some help? Label your fridge, wall or bins with our handy posters and help everyone in your home or office "recycle right!"
 2019 Recycling Flyer page 1   2019 Recycling Flyer page 22019 Recycling Poster

 Recycle Poster  recycle bin label  Trash (including food waste) Poster trash bin label


   Trash (excluding food waste) Poster  Compost Poster  compost bin label

Why Isn't Everything Recyclable?

The list of what should be placed in a blue bin isn't determined by the County, it's set by the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) that sorts and sells your recyclables.

If there isn't a process to sort an item, or if there isn't a market that wants 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" link 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:

not recyclablePLASTICS: 

  • any types of plastic bags
  • disposable cups (like Solo cups, fast food soda cups, coffee cups) and straws
  • rotisserie chicken, takeout, frozen dinner trays and other heat-resistant containers
  • plastic produce containers
  • bakery and deli containers
  • food bags (such as potato chip bags, cereal box liners and salad bags)
  • food wrappers (like for granola bars, candy, single-serve snacks, etc.)
  • toys, pens and other non-packaging plastic items
  • small, individual scraps of plastic, like coffee lids, bottle caps, straws, plastic cutlery, etc.
  • anything made of "Styrofoam"

 not recyclablePAPER: 

  • shredded paper (not accepted loose or bagged)
  • shiny/metallic paper packaging, cards or gift wrap
  • soiled paper or greasy cardboard
  • soft paper products, like napkins, tissues and paper towels

not recyclableMETAL: 

  • any non-packaging metal items
  • pots & pans, forks & knives
  • clothes hangers
  • electronics & appliances
  • cords, chains & wires

not recyclableGLASS: 

  • any non-packaging glass
  • drinking glasses, mugs
  • vases, figurines, etc.
  • plates, bowls, etc.
  • window or picture frame glass
  • mirrors

not recyclableTRASH:

  • food waste
  • diapers
  • cigarette butts
  • batteries
  • balloons
  • textiles, clothing, towels
  • ceramics 
  • garden hoses
  • electric cords and cables
  • twine, string or other "tanglers"
  • anything made of  rubber, vinyl or pvc