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Recycling

NO shredded paper in recycling containers!

Shredded paper has less fiber value. Shredding cuts fibers into very short pieces, many of which pass through paper making screens and become waste at the paper plant. In addition, shredded paper often includes non-recyclables like credit cards and stickers, which can damage recycling equipment and increase costs.

Shredded paper is difficult to sort from other recyclables. Loose shredded paper creates litter, contaminates other materials, such as glass, making them less marketable, and it often ends up in the garbage at the recycling center. (Commercial shredded paper exception*)

Options for residential shredded paper:

  • Packing material
  • Animal bedding
  • Compost
    • Mix 2 parts paper with 1 part grass in a home compost pile.
    • Layer with food scraps and yard clippings in a curbside food/yard waste cart.

If none of the above options work for you, bag shredded paper and put it in the garbage.

* Commercial Shredded Paper Accepted in Clear Plastic Bags: Shredded paper that is free of plastic and metal and is contained in securely closed clear plastic bags is accepted in commercial recycling containers only.

Caps and Lids

Leave Caps and Lids on Plastic Bottles or Put them in the Garbage

Plastic markets will now accept bottles with caps on them. However, at the recycling center, loose caps and lids contaminate other recyclables, including paper bales and glass loads.

Remember to leave caps on plastic bottles or throw them in the garbage!

Even more important, drink tap water from reusable containers whenever possible. Drinking tap water saves over 20 times as many resources as recycling plastic water bottles!

Plastic Recycling

Ignore the chasing arrows!
Clean plastic bottles, jugs and dairy tubs are accepted in all areas.

Why don't you accept all plastic items that have chasing arrows on them?

The number inside the chasing arrows imprinted on many plastic items identifies the type of resin used in making the product.

However, some items with the same number cannot be recycled together because they are manufactured using a different heating and molding process. (For example, markets that accept #1 plastic bottles often don’t want #1 plastic cups.)

In addition, the cost of collecting, sorting and remanufacturing some items exceeds the value of the recycled plastic. And so many plastic items cannot currently be recycled, even though they have chasing arrows.

To avoid confusion and contamination, ignore the numbers and remember: Put clean plastic bottles, jugs and dairy tubs in your curbside recycling container. If you live in Seattle, Federal Way or unincorporated King or Snohomish County, you can also put plastic cups in your recycling. All other plastic should be reused or go in the garbage. (Reusing an item saves 20 times as much energy as recycling it.)

Clean plastic film (stretch wrap, bags, etc.) is accepted from commercial customers only. Plastic film must be put in clear plastic bags that are securely tied to avoid contamination of other recyclables.

Clean plastic bags are accepted in recycling containers at many grocery stores. However:

  • Plastic bags are a major cause of litter and waste.
  • It is much better to use a durable shopping bag.
  • Plastic bags cause litter, slow sorting and jam machinery at recycling centers.

Empty recyclables out of bags and boxes, and put them loose in recycling containers so that they can be easily identified and sorted.

Buy Recycled Products

Complete the Recycling Loop!

Recycling is a three-step process:

    1. Collecting recyclable materials;
    2. Manufacturing new products with collected materials; and
    3. Buying recycled products.

All three steps are required for recycling to be successful. Buying products made with post-consumer recycled content strengthens recycling markets and ensures that there will continue to be a demand for recycled materials.

How to Buy Recycled