Recycling for Residents

Recycling is steadily taking hold in communities all across America. At Waste Management, we're deeply involved in these local efforts.

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We work to make recycling as easy and convenient as possible for everyone. Besides keeping valuable materials out of landfills, recycling conserves natural resources. It saves energy and lowers greenhouse gas emissions. And it provides industry with affordable resources for manufacturing new products. Thanks for doing your part.

There’s no single answer to what is acceptable for recycling, since municipal programs vary. To find out which materials your community accepts, please check with your closest Waste Management facility.

In general, the materials below are accepted in many programs. But some items don’t belong in your recycling bin at all. Click below to read the “do’s and don’ts” for successful recycling and find out more.

Paper and Cardboard

Metals

Glass

Plastics

Yard Waste

Where can I recycle? and other FAQs

Paper and Cardboard

Most of us use a product made of paper every day. Paper production represents about 1.2% of the world's total economic output and makes up more than 40% of the composition of landfills. The good news is, more and more Americans are recycling paper.

Do’s

  • Corrugated cardboard (boxes)
  • Magazines
  • Office paper (all colors)
  • Newspapers
  • Paperboard (cereal boxes)
  • Paper cardboard dairy/juice cartons (in limited areas only)
  • Unsolicited direct mail (even window envelopes are okay)
  • Phone books

Don’ts

  • Waxed paper
  • Food-contaminated paper (such as a cheese-encrusted pizza box)
  • Mixed metal and paper (like stapled paper – just remove the staple and the paper can be recycled)

Each municipality has its own local criteria for what can and can not be recycled. Check with your closest Waste Management facility for specific services in your area.

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Metals

Do you think of your empty soda cans and food cans as natural resources? They are. The scrap value of the 36 billion aluminum cans Americans discarded in one year alone was about $600 million. Apart from the economic impact, the environmental savings of recycling metal are enormous. Recycling steel and tin cans, for example, saves 74% of the energy needed to produce them in the first place.

Do’s

  • Aluminum cans
  • Foil and aluminum bakeware
  • Steel cans and tins (rinsed-out soup cans, veggie cans, coffee cans, etc.)
  • Wire coat hangers
  • Empty aerosol cans

Don’ts

  • Food-contaminated metals (like a half-eaten can of beans – rinse out the beans and the can is good to recycle!)
  • Automotive parts
  • Plumbing parts
  • Paint cans with wet or dried-on paint (See our Other Waste section for how to properly dispose of household hazardous waste)
  • Electronics (See our Other Waste section for how to properly recycle electronics)

Each municipality has its own local criteria for what can and can not be recycled. Check with your closest Waste Management facility for specific services in your area.

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Glass

Glass is endlessly recyclable, and most glass bottles and jars produced in the United States now contain at least 25% recycled glass – which also requires 75% less energy to produce than glass made from new materials. One important thing to keep in mind as you recycle glass is that even small amounts of some materials (like ceramics) mixed in with glass can contaminate entire loads.

Do’s

  • Clear glass (rinsed mayonnaise containers, pasta sauces, pickle jars, etc.)
  • Brown amber glass typically used for beer
  • Green bottles typically used for wine

Don’ts

  • Any glass contaminated with stones, dirt and food waste
  • Ceramics, such as dishware, ovenware, and decorative items
  • Heat-resistant glass, such as Pyrex
  • Mixed colors of broken glass
  • Mirror or window glass
  • Metal or plastic caps, corks or lids
  • Crystal
  • Light bulbs (See our Other Waste section for how to properly dispose of fluorescent bulbs and batteries)
  • Cathode-ray tubes (CRTs) found in some televisions and computer monitors (See our Other Waste section for how to properly recycle electronics)

Each municipality has its own local criteria for what can and can not be recycled. Check with your closest Waste Management facility for specific services in your area.

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Plastics

Did you know that every year we produce enough plastic film in this country to shrink-wrap Texas? Or that Americans discard 38 billion plastic water bottles every year? While plastic offers the advantages of being flexible and lightweight, manufacturing it consumes fossil resources and contributes waste to our environment. One important thing to keep in mind as you recycle plastics is that cleanliness is essential. One dirty product, or one with food waste still in it, can contaminate an entire bale containing thousands of pounds of collected plastics.

The Plastic Recycling Code

How can you tell whether to put a plastic container into your recycling bin? Turn the product over and look for the recycling symbol, a triangle with a number from 1 to 7 inside. That number is the "resin identification code," or RIC. Each number represents a different type of plastic, and some are more easily recycled than others.

Some municipalities accept all types of plastic. Others accept only containers with certain code numbers stamped on them. Still others accept only products with specific resin codes that also are bottles (having a neck that's narrower than the body).

Note that the same type of product may be packaged in different types of plastic. Shampoo, for example, is commonly packaged in bottles made of Code 2 and Code 3 plastic, depending on the brand. Check the code to determine. To learn more about other plastic codes, visit http://www.thinkgreen.com/.

Typical Dos

  • Make sure it’s clean! Does that peanut butter jar still have some remnants sticking to the side? Don't recycle it until it's clean!
  • Products labeled Code 1 and Code 2 are widely accepted at recycling facilities. These typically include soft drink and soda bottles; plastics from cereal boxes; containers for salad dressing, vegetable oil, and peanut butter; oven-ready meal trays; butter and margarine tubs; and containers for laundry detergent and some household cleaners.

Typical Don’ts

  • Municipalities differ on whether to accept products labeled with Code 4 and Code 5. These typically include squeezable bottles, bread wrappers, frozen food bags, dry cleaning bags, yogurt containers, syrup bottles, ketchup bottles, some straws, and prescription bottles.
  • Plastic grocery and produce sacks are commonly, but not always, made from plastic types 2 or 4. These bags are often collected in barrels at grocery stores.
  • Products labeled with Code 3, 6, or 7 are less-often accepted for recycling. These typically include window cleaner and dishwashing detergent bottles, some shampoo bottles, cooking oil bottles, clear food packaging, plastics used in most blister packs, disposable coffee cups, polystyrene, plastic egg cartons, aspirin bottles, and compact disc cases. 

Each municipality has its own local criteria for what can and can not be recycled. Check with your closest Waste Management facility for specific services in your area.

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Yard Waste

If your community offers yard waste pickup, chances are your old grass clippings are being put to good use as compost. Compost is a stable, dark brown, soil-like material that can hold moisture, air and nutrients. Composting, whether on a small or large scale, produces a soil conditioner virtually unmatched by any synthetic product. As any backyard gardener knows, compost is tremendously valuable as a soil amendment in the vegetable garden or as mulch in the landscape. If your community does not offer organic waste recycling, rest assured your grass clippings are still doing their job. In industrialized countries like the U.S., much of the organic waste is disposed of in landfills where it produces methane as it decomposes anaerobically. Many landfills have a landfill-gas-to-energy power plant that creates energy for thousands of homes using methane from organic waste, depending on the size of the facility

Do’s

  • Cut grass/lawn clippings
  • Flower and tree trimmings
  • Weeds
  • Wood scraps/chips

 Don’ts

  • Soil/sod
  • Animal waste
  • Food waste or food scraps (unless your area offers food waste organic recycling)
  • Meat, fish or bones
  • Palm branches
  • Diseased plants

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Where can I recycle and other FAQs

Each municipality has its own local criteria for what can and can not be recycled. Check with your closest Waste Management facility for specific services in your area.

Why does the list of acceptable recyclable items vary by area?

Waste Management tailors specific recycling programs for each municipality we serve. For this reason, programs may vary not only by area, but also by community.

Why doesn't Waste Management provide recycling in my community or city?

Procuring recycling services is the responsibility of the municipality. If the citizens of your community would like to discuss recycling options with Waste Management, submit an Inquiry Form and a Recycling Coordinators will contact you to discuss.

To find out more about recycling, visit www.thinkgreen.com.

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