What Goes Where? | Recology San Mateo County


What Goes Where?

Find out how to properly dispose of your items. If you’re unable to find what you’re looking for, reach out to our team.

For printable guides and service brochures, please visit the Sorting Guides and Signage page. Review our Sorting Video to find out which materials are accepted in the recycling, compost, and landfill bins.

We accept food scraps, soiled paper, and plants in the green composting cart.  Only bio-plastic bags labeled BPI Certified Compostable may be placed in your green cart. All other bioplastics, even if they are labeled compostable, will no longer be accepted.

Need to change the size of any of your carts, or order a new kitchen compost pail? Contact us.

Accepted Composting Materials
Food Scraps

  • Bread, grains, and pasta
  • Coffee grounds (and filters)
  • Dairy
  • Eggshells
  • Fish and shellfish
  • Fruit, including pits
  • Meat, including bones
  • Poultry
  • Vegetables
Plants

  • Branches and brush (Up to 4 inches in diameter and lids should close)
  • Clean untreated wood scraps
  • Flowers and floral trimmings
  • Grasses and weeds
  • Leaves
  • Tree trimmings
Soiled Paper

  • Coffee filters
  • Greasy pizza boxes
  • Paper cups (including chain store coffee cups) and plates
  • Paper ice cream containers
  • Paper bags, napkins, and towels
  • Paper take-out boxes and containers
  • Paper tea bags
  • Waxed cardboard and paper
  • Wine corks
Unaccepted Composting Material 
  • Animal waste
  • Bio-base & PLA To-Go Ware Even if labeled “Compostable”
  • Concrete, asphalt, stones, sod, dirt, and bricks
  • Cooking oil
  • Diapers
  • Hazardous waste
  • Juice or soy milk boxes
    with foil liner
  • Large and/or long tree branches & stumps
  • Liquids and ice
  • Recyclables (glass, aluminum, paper, plastics 1-7)
  • Palm fronds and tree leaves
  • Plastic bags
  • Plastic corks
  • Plywood
  • Produce stickers
  • Rubber gloves
  • Foam packaging, food containers, and packing peanuts
  • Treated and painted wood

We accept various paper, glass, plastic, and metal materials. All materials should be kept empty, clean, and dry. Avoid food and liquid residue.

Need to change the size of your service, or order a free recycling buddy bag? Contact us.

Accepted Recycling Materials
Paper

  • Bags (paper only, no plastic)
  • Cardboard (non-waxed)
  • Catalogs, magazines, envelopes, and junk mail
  • Computer and office paper (all colors)
  • Egg cartons (cardboard)
  • Milk and juice cartons
  • Newspapers
  • Packing or craft paper
  • Phonebooks and softcover books
  • Shredded paper (in a folded paper bag labeled “shredded paper” and placed inside your blue Recycle cart)
  • Wrapping paper (non-metallic and glitter-free only)
Glass

  • Glass bottles and jars only (metal caps and lids too)

Plastic

  • Plastic bottles and caps, tubs and containers (such as laundry detergent containers, shampoo bottles, and yogurt tubs)
  • Plastic buckets
Metal

  • Aluminum cans, foil& trays
  • Caps and lids from bottles, jars, and steel/tin cans
  • Paint & aerosol cans (must be empty or dry)
  • Steel (tin) cans
Unaccepted Recycling Material
  • Automotive parts and products
  • Batteries and cell phones
  • Black plastics and plastic cutlery
  • Ceramics, glassware, and mirrors
  • Construction materials
  • Diapers
  • Flower and Nursery pots
  • Food
  • Garbage
  • Garden Hoses
  • Hazardous waste
  • Juice, soup, or soy milk type boxes with foil liner
  • Fluorescent, LED, or HID light bulb
  • Plastic bags
  • Plastic corks
  • Plastic and wire hangers
  • Plastic film, shrink wrap, pallet wrap, and bubble wrap
  • Soiled paper (paper cups, plates, napkins, towels, take-out boxes
    and greasy pizza boxes)
  • Styrofoam packaging, food containers, and packing peanuts
  • Unmarked & unnumbered plastics
  • Waxed Cardboard or Waxed Paper
  • Window glass

Few things, once they are used, are actually garbage and need to be sent to landfill. Among such things are non-recyclable plastics and other complex materials that were not designed to be recycled.

Accepted Landfill Materials
  • Cat litter and animal feces (bagged)
  • Ceramic dishware or glassware
  • Cigarette Butts (extinguished – run under water prior to disposal)
  • Dental floss
  • Diapers
  • Feminine Hygiene Products
  • Foil-backed or plastic-backed paper
  • Glass mirrors and windows
  • Juice or soy milk type boxes with foil liner
  • Mylar (shiny metal) bags (potato chips, candy bars, balloons, etc)
  • Pens and pencils
  • Plastic bags, wrappers, and film
  • Plastic items mixed with metal, fabric, or rubber
  • Plastic labeled “Biodegradable” only
  • Plastic utensils and straws
  • Rubber bands
  • Six-pack ring holder – please cut up
  • Sponges
  • Foam
  • Twist Ties
  • Wood – small pieces of untreated wood waste.
Unaccepted Landfill Materials
  • Appliances
  • Asbestos
  • Batteries
  • Construction debris
  • Cooking oil and grease
  • Dirt, rocks, or stone
  • Electronics
  • Fluorescent, LED, or HID light bulbs
  • Food scraps, soiled paper, or yard trimmings
  • Household hazardous waste or chemicals
  • Large items (furniture, metal, plastic, wood)
  • Liquids or ice
  • Metals & sharks
  • Motor oil
  • Paint
  • Recyclable cardboard, glass, metal, paper, or plastic
  • Toys with electronics or batteries

It is illegal to put items such as electronics, batteries, fluorescent bulbs, pesticides, and other chemicals in the trash. When household hazardous wastes end up in a landfill, they can cause serious threats to humans, wildlife, and the environment.

NEW! Effective January 1, 2021, treated wood (any wood that has been treated with a chemical preservative to protect the wood against attacks from insects, microorganisms, or fungi) is considered hazardous waste per California State law. Recology is no longer able to haul treated wood waste. More information can be found here.