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!" 

Use our app to recycle right! Used on 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 it and provide a quick way to communicate with our office if you have questions about or issues with the recycling service.

  1. Don't put non-recyclable materials into your collection container. At least 10% of what is set out for collection isn't actually recyclable. 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. Some items, like scrap metal or cords and wires, can also damage sorting equipment and create injury risks for staff.
    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. We all wish more things were easily recyclable, but wishfully placing materials in a blue cart doesn't make them makes them expensive trash.
  2. NO PLASTIC BAGS in the blue bin. Recyclables absolutely must loose to be sorted. Plastic 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 plastic bags in a blue bin!
  3. Separate your materials. Remember, materials have to be identified, sorted and processed in order to make it to the end user that wants them. You are the first step in that process. Please remove packing materials from boxes, take 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 being recycled clean- and more valuable.

Common Recycling Mistakes:

  • NO PLASTIC BAGS of any kind. No produce bags, no chip bags, no trash bags, no bread bags, no pet food bags, no food wrappers. 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 #2 and #4 recyclable bags and similar materials for recycling. For locations and a list of what is accepted, 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, VHS cassettes, clothes hangers and no 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 could be composted at home!
  • No shredded paper. Small scraps of paper are impossible to sort in a single-stream system. Paper shreds mix in and contaminate other materials, lowering the value of your recyclables. One more reason to compost 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 can be processed through the blue bin program.
  • 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 snap-on lids, like for margarine or coffee, and also includes small buckets). At this time, most other plastic items can NOT be sorted or there is no end user market that wants them.
    • Don't recycle “clamshell” plastics. This means no hinged containers (including produce containers and salad bins, bakery or deli boxes, takeout containers, etc.) regardless of what number or symbol is imprinted on them. We do not have access to a sorting process 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 metal cans and those bottles, jars, jugs and tubs we mentioned above). 

So, other random objects, like pots & pans, electronics, drinking glasses, toys, food, clothing, 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

Event Recycling/Trash/Compost Posters:

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


   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 your recyclables and delivers them to the industry buyers that want them.

If there isn't a process to sort an item, or technology to identify the material type, 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 how MRFs work 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 in a blue bin:

not recyclablePLASTICS: 

  • any types of plastic bags
  • disposable cups (like Solo cups, fast food soda cups, coffee cups), cup lids, and straws
  • heat-resistant containers like rotisserie chicken bins or bags, takeout containers, microwave meal trays, etc.
  • plastic produce containers
  • bakery and deli containers
  • coffee pods, single-serve creamer cups
  • food bags (such as potato chip bags, frozen food 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 spoons, 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: 

  • anything that isn't a metal can
  • pots & pans, forks & knives
  • clothes hangers
  • electronics & appliances
  • cords, chains & wires

not recyclableGLASS: 

  • anything that isn't a bottle or jar
  • 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"
  • VHS and audio tapes
  • anything made of  rubber, vinyl or pvc
  • empty containers that held hazardous or toxic materials

    Use the free Recycle Coach app...or, WHEN IN DOUBT, PLEASE JUST THROW IT OUT!