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Unfortunately many of the items that residents were previously putting in their cart were not supposed to go in there in the first place (on average 25% of what we put in our cart is not recyclable). We are cleaning up the recycling stream with this new program and all of our outreach and education. Consumers need to do their part by knowing what is and isn’t recyclable rather than just “wishful recycling” that clogs up the waste stream, breaks equipment and makes recycling more expensive.
Here's what you can put in your cart:
Visit our accepted recyclables page to search for ways to recycle and dispose of waste items.
Unfortunately, yogurt cup containers are no longer recyclable. This is a repercussion of the international trade restrictions that were recently enacted because those items used to be sent overseas for recycling and there is no longer a market for them. Hopefully, domestic markets will open up and we will be able to add those items back into our recycling stream. For now all we can do is focus on reducing and reusing!
Use our new Recyclopedia tool to search for other waste items, and we'll tell you how to recycle or dispose of them.
Shredded paper is not allowed in the curbside cart with one exception–if the shredded paper is in long strips (not crosscut into short strips or confetti) it can be placed in a paper bag and put into the curbside recycling cart. Otherwise it needs to be disposed of in the regular trash.
We accept only #1 and #2 plastic bottles and jugs. This includes water bottles, sports drink bottles, laundry detergent containers, shampoo bottles and any other plastic container with a neck. However, those numbers on the bottoms of containers can be misleading so the best way for consumers to recycle correctly it to pay attention to the shape. The majority of plastic bottles and jugs are #1 and #2.
Plastics #3-7 are not accepted at this time. Unfortunately the chemical makeup of these items leads them to be unmarketable to the manufacturers that are making new items out of recycled materials. Several Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs) have accepted these items for the past few years, but there isn't a market for them at this time.
Numbers 3-7 will not be accepted. Unfortunately, the chemical makeup of these items lead them to be unmarketable to the manufacturers that are making new items out of recycled materials at this time. Many Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs) have been accepting these items for the past few years (County Waste included), but unfortunately there just isn't a market for them and so they sit in bales on the MRF property waiting for a buyer. The only market at this time seems to be waste-to-energy (i.e. burning trash to make electricity). However, it is important to the County that everything we collect for recycling from our residents is actually being recycled and not burned for energy so we have removed that item from our list.
The only items that are being excluded (that were included before) are plastic containers such as yogurt cups and clamshells because there simply isn’t a market for those materials at this time. The good news is that these are a small percentage of our recycling stream. All of the items that we currently accept have always made up the majority of the items in the cart.
We are simply asking folks to pay attention to the shape of the plastic rather than the number to keep it simple and minimize confusion. We accept any plastic bottles and jugs (water bottles, sports drink bottles, laundry detergent containers, shampoo bottles and any other plastic container with a neck). This does include #1 and #2 plastics but those numbers on the bottoms of containers can be misleading and were created by the plastics industry to identify the chemical compounds that the materials are made of. The best way for consumers to recycle correctly it to pay attention to the shape.
Plastic bottles and jugs are the only ones that are marketable for recycling. The recycling industry is working hard to look for new markets so as they become available, we will definitely be adding more materials back into the stream.
The number of plastics with a neck that are not #1 and #2 are minimal so the Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs) can easily weed them out. Here is the technical explanation:
Plastics #1 and #2 with a neck are the only plastic containers that hold any value on the recycling commodities market at this time. Bottles with a neck are blow molded and melted at a certain temperature. Plastic bottles without a neck are injection molded and melted at a different temperature. When the two different types of materials are mixed in the recycling stream they create a contamination problem because there is no market for the injection molded plastics #1 and #2 at this time and they do not melt down together. To streamline the response we simply leave the numbers out of the conversation and tell folks that we accept any plastic bottle with a neck. The small number of plastics with a neck that are not #1 and #2 are easier for the MRF to weed out.
The County accepts the same materials at the convenience centers as we do in our curbside recycling program – we no longer accept the additional plastics at the convenience centers as of July 1.