Acceptable recyclable items in a 35 gallon container, including paper, plastic, and aluminum.

What Can I Recycle?

What is Recycling and What Can I Recycle?

What is recycling? Recycling is the separation of specific materials, usually including plastic, metal, paper, cardboard, and glass, from garbage and diverting it to a facility that will repurpose it for reuse. Recycling also offers a sustainable solution to regular waste streams by lowering our input into municipal landfills, and helping extend the expected life of a landfill by decades, drastically lowering our environmental impact.

Single Stream recycling, the most common option for many waste haulers, along with the preferred choice at Waste Industries, allows customers to put all their recycling in a single container that is then transferred to a recycling center and separated by a team of specialists. This method has pros and cons, and the cons are incredibly important to note.

Pros of Single Stream Recycling:

  • One container for all recycling materials.
  • You should not bag your recycling, just chuck it in the bin.
  • No separation is required. If it’s accepted, throw it in the same container.

Cons of Single Stream Recycling:

  • Contamination ruins the entire load
  • If an unaccepted material or trash ends up in the bin, the entire load must be disposed of at a landfill for contamination
  • Most people are unfamiliar with the fact that different facilities accept different materials.

Contamination is the biggest problem facing current recycling practices today. People throw in things they shouldn’t, like grease soaked cardboard, plastic bags, or paint cans, and then the entire load needs to be dumped. If it ends up at the recycling center, all pieces in proximity to the contamination can be removed as well, causing slowdowns and strain on the facility.

It’s incredibly important you know what you can recycle and what you can’t.

NOTE: THE FOLLOWING LIST IS NOT LOCATION SPECIFIC. Contact your local branch or recycling center to find a list of accepted materials for your recycling center.

Plastic Recycling RulesACCEPTED: Plastic Recycling

Includes all CLEANED plastic bottles and jars #1 thru #7: soft drink bottles, milk jugs, detergent bottles, FLATTENED cartons, etc. Check the bottom of the container. If you see the recycling symbol with a #1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7 in the center, it is acceptable.

Metal Recycling RulesACCEPTED: Metal Recycling

Includes aluminum cans, pie and baking pans, tin cans, steel food containers, EMPTY aerosol cans, and lids. Metal beverage cans, baking tins, foil, and food containers are also included in this material category.

All items must be CLEAN OF FOOD.

Cardboard Recycling RulesACCEPTED: Cardboard Recycling

Includes corrugated cardboard, shipping boxes, cereal and dry food boxes, shoe boxes, tissue boxes, moving boxes, detergent boxes, soda/beer cartons, and paper towel/toilet tissue rolls.

All boxes MUST BE FLATTENED for proper disposal.

Paper Recycling RulesACCEPTED: Paper Recycling

Includes newspapers, inserts, labels, magazines, catalogs, paperback books, manila folders, letterhead, notebook paper (no backings), computer paper, envelopes (with windows), coupon books, index cards, calendars, and brown paper bags.

Glass Recycling RulesSOMETIMES ACCEPTED: Glass recycling

NOTE: Many areas are no longer accepting glass. This is the biggest one to look for before recycling. Glass has become incredibly expensive to recycle and many facilities are no longer taking it, so always double check. If it is accepted, it usually includes:

Bottles and jars. Lids must be removed from the container and separated before being placed inside the container. All liquid and food waste must be removed before being recycled.

Non Recycling RulesDO NOT RECYCLE:

Styrofoam, window glass and mirrors, electronic waste (TVs and computers), motor oil containers, yard waste, chemical containers, shredded paper, plastic bags, ceramics or dishes, food waste, scrap metal, monitors.

*Please check with your local branch for details in your area on what’s accepted and what isn’t. This general list does not apply to everyone, but it follows the most common practices, so always double check to avoid contamination.

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