FAQ - Recology King County: Mercer Island
California Cont.



Find the answers to some of our most commonly asked questions by selecting a category below.

If you’re unable to locate an answer, contact us and we’ll be happy to help.



Tips & Guidelines
Compostable material includes food scraps and yard waste. Weekly compost collection is included with your garbage subscription at no additional cost.  If you require additional carts, see available options here. The handling and processing of compostable material is less resource-intensive than processing garbage and creates a valuable product to use in parks and gardens. Approximately 30% of all material that ends up in the landfill could be composted instead. When you keep food scraps, food-soiled paper and yard debris separate from your garbage, you extend the life of our landfills and conserve resources.

Your compost cart is collected weekly along with your garbage and recycling. To sign up for service call Recology at 206.381.6980.

Materials Collected

Put these types of materials in your compost cart:

Food scraps

  • Fruits, vegetables
  • Bread, pasta, grains
  • Eggshells, nutshells
  • Fish, meat, dairy
  • Shells, bones
  • Coffee grounds and filters
  • Tea bags

Food-soiled paper

  • Paper towels and napkins
  • Uncoated paper plates and cups
  • Uncoated paper take-out cartons
  • Pizza delivery boxes
  • Paper bags containing food scraps

Yard debris

  • Grass clippings
  • Leaves, twigs
  • Weeds
  • Houseplants
  • Branches (under 4′ long, 4″ wide)


DO NOT place these items in your compost cart:
  • Glass
  • Animal or human waste
  • Pet litter
  • Diapers
  • Plastic
  • StyrofoamTM
  • Foil
  • Hazardous waste
  • Soil
  • Rocks
  • Stumps/limbs (over 4′ long, 4″ wide)
  • Lumber or fencing
  • Painted or treated wood
  • Metal







Watch the Kitchen Composting 101 video below for tips

More videos from King County: Love Your Leftovers | Shop Smart | Store It Right





If you can’t reduce, recycle!
If you have more materials to recycle than will fit in your cart, put them in a cardboard box (3′ x 3′ x 3′ or smaller) next to your cart.

The following materials are accepted in your recycling cart. All containers must be clean and empty.

Recyclable Materials List

  • Cardboard
  • Office paper, including windowed envelopes, color paper, and file folders
  • Mail, magazines, mixed paper
  • Newspaper
  • Paper bags
  • Paper cups
  • Phone books & paperback books
  • Paper cartons
  • Juice boxes, Tetra Paks & aseptic containers
  • Milk and soy milk cartons
  • Paper or frozen food boxes
  • Bottles (all colors and numbers)
  • Food containers and trays
  • Clear or colored plastic milk jugs
  • Dairy tubs
  • Pill bottles (no prescription vials)
  • Plastic cups
  • Lids (3 inches or wider)
  • Plastic plant pots
  • Plastic buckets
  • PVC pipe (white only)
  • Household rigid plastic items such as furniture, and laundry baskets
  • Aluminum cans
  • Tin cans
  • Ferrous scrap metal
  • Other scrap metals (less than 2’ x 2’ x 2’)
  • Bottles
  • Jars

For items that are recyclable but require special handling, please see the Specialty Item Recycling page.

Download the Recycling Poster
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PaintPlease follow these instructions when disposing of latex paint cans:

Metal cans or plastic buckets containing latex paint must be dried out and then put in the garbage. Cans or buckets containing wet paint are NOT allowed in the garbage.

  • To dry out small amounts of latex paint (less than 1-inch), leave the lid off for several days until the contents are dry.
  • To dry out large amounts of latex paint or to dry it quickly, mix 50/50 with kitty litter or a commercial paint hardener such as “Waste Away.” Allow the mixture to dry in the can.
  • Put dried out paint cans in your garbage with the lid off so drivers can see that the can contains only dried paint.

Please follow these instructions when disposing of oil-based paint cans:

Hazardous waste items are NOT allowed in the garbage. For information on disposing hazardous wastes from your business, please visit the King County Hazardous Waste websiteFind out if your small business is eligible to receive free hazardous waste disposal.  Find additional information on the flyer below.

Download the Small Business Hazardous Waste Disposal flyer.

Recology provides free curbside collection for Mercer Island residential and apartment/condo customers.

  • Put oil in a leak free, one-gallon milk jug with screw-top lid.
  • Must be labeled with name and address.
  • Limit 2 gallons per collection.

For quantities greater than 2 gallons, or commercial customers, see Hazardous Waste Drop-off Centers.

Motor OilResidential customers may drop off empty camping-style cylinders at The Recology Store.

We do not accept large propane tanks. If you have refillable propane tanks for your barbecue, make sure to reuse them or drop them off at a certified take-back facility. You can find local facilities by searching online.

MedicationsLarge amounts of powerful medicines go unused or expire and the way we dispose of them makes a difference for our waters and our environment. For years, the advice was to flush our drugs or mix them with kitty litter and throw them in the garbage. Flushing drugs sends them directly into our waters, harming the environment.  Drugs thrown in the garbage are available for others to take and use, and can still get into the environment.

Returning medicines to a take-back program is the only environmentally sound method for disposing of unused medicines (www.takebackyourmeds.org).

Visit the Take Back Your Meds for locations of drop-off centers.

BatteriesAll batteries must be taken to specified drop-off locations or returned to retailers, depending on battery type. Lead acid, rechargable, and button batteries contain toxic materials and are particularly hazardous to human and environmental health. For more information, visit www.hazwastehelp.org.

Batteries that must be taken to a drop-off center:

  • Alkaline – These are the common brand name batteries such as Duracell or Energizer
  • Lithium Ion (Li-ion) – Rechargeable batteries for laptops, cell phones, and MP3 players
  • Nickel Cadmium (NiCd) – Rechargeable batteries for portable electronics and power tools
  • Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) – Common brand name rechargeable batteries
  • Zinc-Air and Silver Oxide batteries – Button type batteries found in watches, calculators, and hearing aids

Batteries that are not accepted at drop-off centers:

  • Lead-Acid – Car batteries; these must be taken to auto parts/repair stores
  • Mercer Island residential customers may also drop off household batteries at The Recology Store.


You don’t. You take them back next time you go to the dry cleaners. That’s reuse which is even better than recycling. Please do not put wire or plastic hangers in your blue recycling bin; hangers jam equipment at the recycling plant. Recycling bins are for bottles, cans, paper, cardboard, and hard plastics, such as plastic cups and molded plastic packaging.

Shredded paper belongs in the garbage because of its size and composition.  Often there are pieces of plastic mixed in with shredded paper, preventing it from being processed as fully compostable, while the shreds of paper are also too small to be processed effectively at recycling facilities.

Call Customer Service at 206.381.6980 to request a special container (ranging from 2 yards to 40 yards).  Tonnage and haul fees apply.

You can recycle ferrous and non-ferrous scrap metal items. Items must:

  • Contain less than 5% non-metal components
  • Be less than 2 feet in any direction and weigh less than 35 lbs

Place item(s) inside cart or secure (i.e., bundle or box) next to cart.

License plates:
In order for an old license plate to be accepted in curbside recycling, the month and year tabs must be removed or invalidated, and the plate must be bent so that it cannot be used on a vehicle. Please check with the Washington State Department of Licensing website to ensure that you do not recycle a license plate type that must be taken into a vehicle licensing office for disposal.

Mercer Island residents may drop off clean Styrofoam™ blocks  (polystyrene foam blocks and coolers) for recycling at The Recology Store.  Otherwise, Styrofoam™ should be bagged and placed in the garbage.


Recology accepts clean clothing and household textiles for recycling at The Recology Store.  Additionally, many local second use or thrift stores will accept textiles for reuse.

Recology will collect natural, undecorated, unflocked trees in 4-foot lengths from customers who subscribe to curbside compost collection. No special arrangements are necessary; just put your tree curbside on your regular compost collection day.

Flocked trees are not accepted in compost collection. The flocking can often contain non-compostable materials including adhesives, flame retardant, or additives to make the flocking glitter and shine. Flocked trees are considered garbage, and are not accepted at tree recycling facilities.

Bulky Item Collection
Recology offers on-call removal of large items, such as furniture or appliances, for a fee. Schedule a special pick-up for any of your large items or appliances by submitting a Bulky Item Request Form or calling 206.381.6980.

To locate a drop-off location visit King County’s “What Do I Do With?” page.

Electronic waste, or e-waste, including computers, monitors, and televisions, are not allowed in the garbage because they contain toxic materials that can be hazardous to human health and the environment. There are several options for safe disposal of these items.

The Recology Store  accepts e-waste and electronics for reuse and recycling. Items dropped off at the store are collected by Electronic Recyclers International. ERI is both R2 and e-Steward certified and responsibly recycles or refurbishes all e-waste received. ERI also performs data destruction in accordance with Department of Defense and National Institute of Standard and Technology protocol to ensure 100 percent data destruction.

Residents of the state of Washington can call 1.800.RECYCLE or visit the E-Cycle Washington website for E-Waste disposal information.

The Take It Back Network also provides information on how to dispose of all unwanted electronics.

Responsible Purchasing
The Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool will help you find desktops and laptops that are manufactured environmentally responsibly and have a long user life.

As of 2020, plastic bags and wrap are no longer accepted in curbside recycling bins. Please check with your local grocery store to see if they offer a take-back program. Many stores have such programs and offer easy drop off near the check-out counter. You can also visit https://www.plasticfilmrecycling.org/ to view a list of drop-off locations.



To report a missed collection, please call 206.381.6980, send us an email, or use the Missed Collection Form. Please notify us within 24 hours of the missed collection. Recology operates during normal business days in the City of Mercer Island so if your collection is missed and reported on a Friday, collection will occur the following Monday.

Please keep in mind:

Set Out Time
Residential materials must be set out by 7am on collection day. Apartments, Condos and Commercial materials must be set out by 5am on collection day.

Material Preparation
If you find a tag on your materials titled “we’re sorry,” please correct the problem indicated. If you are a residential customer and would like us to return and collect the materials before your next collection day, there is a return trip charge.

Collection Calendar
If you are uncertain of your collection day you can look it up on the “My Collection Calendar” page, by logging in to your account, or calling us at 206.381.6980.

Service Alerts and Weather Delays
If extreme weather conditions make it unsafe for our trucks to pick up your garbage, recycling, or food scraps and yard debris, Recology will try to collect materials on the first day that regular service resumes.

At that time, Recology will pick up extra materials equal to what would have been collected on the missed collection day(s) at no charge. Please check the homepage for current collection information during storms.

To temporarily stop service, call Customer Service at 206.381.6980 or submit a Vacation Hold Form. You will not be billed for stopped collections if the request is made at least one week prior to the affected collection day.


Use our online form to Request a Debris Box.

View the Debris Boxes and Construction Services page to find container sizes, FAQs, and service brochures.

The maximum allowed weight is 14,000 lbs due to safety concerns.  If the debris box weighs more than 14,000 lbs, the container will be off-loaded at the customer’s expense.  Materials such as dirt, concrete, bricks or other heavy materials add tremendous bulk and weight to the container.



Taxes on your garbage bill consist of:

Washington State Refuse Tax – 3.6%
These funds are used to provide financial assistance to local governments for repair and maintenance of public works projects.

Mercer Island City Utility Tax – 7%
Utility tax revenue provides basic City services such as police protection, parks and street maintenance, human services, jail and environmental services.

King County Hazardous Waste Fee

  • $0.89/mo for residential single family homes
  • $1.54/mo for small volume generators (≤ 0.48 cu. yards – cart or can)
  • $12.66/mo for medium volume generators (0.48 to < 10 cu. yds – dumpster)
  • $48.64/mo for large volume generators (≥ 10 cu. yds – roll-off container)

This monthly fee is collected by the Local Hazardous Waste Management Program in King County to fund the Hazardous Wastemobile and the Hazardous Waste Collection facilities at transfer stations throughout the county. You can learn more at hazwastehelp.org.

If you live in the Mercer Island area, Recology is your one-stop shop for garbage, recycling, and compost service.

You may sign up for service or change your container size by calling Customer Service at 206.381.6980 or by submitting the appropriate online form below. Existing customers can use this form to change service levels to better fit their needs.

View the residential rates page to see the cart sizes and rates that we offer.

We will process your request and begin your new service within two (2) business days.

Cart Delivery
Your new cart(s) will be delivered the next collection day following your order or the week after, depending on when your request was made.

Cart Removal
If you are changing service levels and your change requires a Recology cart to be removed, set the cart(s) out on your next collection day. The cart(s) will be removed after your materials are collected.

If you have questions please call us at 206.381.6980.