What to Recycle

Learn what to recycle, what not to recycle and how to avoid contaminating the recycling stream by watching this video.


Ever stood in front of your recycling cart trying to figure out if something should go in it? You're not sure whether it can be recycled but you hope it can, so you toss it in anyways. 

This is WISH-CYCLING. The reality is, this practice can cause an entire load of good recyclables to become contaminated trash  – and no one wishes for that! 

These might be items that need to be recycled through other methods (ex: electronics) or you may think there is a component that is recyclable and someone at the recycling center will separate it or figure it out. This is not true. 

All items received at recycling centers need to be easily sorted into glass, plastic, metal or paper/cardboard. 

How to Prepare Your Recyclables

  • All containers need to be empty of liquids and food 
  • Rinse off food residue 
  • Labels do not have to be removed
  • No need to crush cans or plastic bottles (small items are difficult to process)
  • Put plastic caps back on bottles
  • Flatten cardboard boxes
  • Do not put recyclables inside plastic bags
    (recyclables should be disposed of loosely in the container)


  • Food cans (including pet food)
  • Beverage cans
  • NO foil or food trays

Tin Cans

  • Food cans and lids: soup, vegetable, fruit, broth, etc.
  • Pet food cans and lids
  • Metal caps from bottles, jars and frozen juice

Glass Bottles & Jars 

  • Beverage bottles
  • Food jars (keep lids off)
  • NO windows, dishes, Pyrex, ceramics, candle jars or light bulbs
    The glass is of a different recipe and thus has a different melting point than the glass bottles and jars you can recycle in the recycling bin at home. 

Mixed Paper

  • Paper must be clean and dry
  • Newspaper and all inserts
  • Envelopes - with or without a window
  • Magazines and catalogs
  • Office paper and Post-It notes
  • Phone Books
  • Paperback Books (but not hardcover books - unless you take out just the inside pages)
  • Shredded Paper
    (put into a paper bag, fold the top and tape/staple it closed, label “shredded paper”)
  • NO used paper plates, cups, fast-food containers, napkins, towels, tissues, etc. 
    (can be composted or thrown in the trash)


  • Clean, corrugated cardboard (break down and flatten)
  • Cereal, granola bar, cake and other baking boxes (remove plastic liners)
  • Manila envelopes and file folders
  • Paper grocery bags

  • NO pizza boxes, detergent boxes, food boxes with waxy coatings
  • If you have large quantities to recycle, call your curbside hauler to make arrangements for the additional pick-up


  • #1 and #2 bottles (put caps back on) and food containers
    Some haulers accept plastics #3-7 as well:
    Waste Management, Advanced Disposal and Olson Sanitation 
  • Milk jugs, beverage bottles, laundry detergent (items with a neck)
  • NO styrofoam egg cartons, cups, plates or packaging material
  • NO plastic film and bags in curbside recycling
    • To recycle plastic bags and film:
      bring to your local grocery store, Target or Walmart
      (examples: grocery bags, bread bags, newspaper bags, ziplock bags, plus film wrap for water bottles, paper products, bubble wrap, air pillows)
      Must be the stretchy kind of plastic

Other items that may be recyclable in your community

  • Appliance, Electronics and Tires (spring and fall collection events)
  • Hazardous Waste Clean Sweep (spring and fall collection events)
  • Printer cartridges, re-chargeable and vehicle batteries, used motor oil, fluorescent bulbs, eye glasses / hearing aids, scrap metal (drop-off sites or mail-in programs)
  • Re-claim programs may be offered through the manufacturer -
    Contact the business/manufacturer directly for details 
  • TerraCycle also provides many MAIL-BACK programs
    for general product categories or specific manufacturers
  • For more details check-out our A-Z Recycling & Disposal Guide