Keep these Top 10 Contaminants Out of Your Recycling Cart

Recycling contamination has a direct impact on our ability to recycle materials and keep them out of landfills. Contamination, defined as non-recyclable material inside of your recycling container, can take many forms, but these are the most common materials we see improperly placed in curbside recycling. Please keep these top 10 contaminants out of your recycling cart and find out what you should do with them instead.

Top 10 Recycling Contaminants:

1. Plastic Bags – At the recycling facility plastic bags get tangled in machinery and can’t be effectively sorted for recycling. Ask your grocery store if they offer a take-back program, visit to research other drop-off locations, or place in the garbage.

2. Styrofoam – Styrofoam breaks into many tiny particles when compacted in a recycling truck. Drop this off at The Recology Store (free for Recology customers!) or visit to arrange a special item pickup.

3. Liquids – A few drops are OK, but more will cause paper to mold and render it non-recyclable. Empty containers and give them a few taps to remove as much liquid as possible.

4. Bagged Recycling – Keep your recycling loose in your cart. Bagged recycling can’t be processed at the recycling facility and is often sent directly to the landfill.

5. Textiles – Like plastic bags and wrap, textiles get caught in the machinery at the recycling facility. Drop them off at The Recology Store (free for Recology customers!) or visit to arrange a special item pickup.

6. Food Waste – Food waste negatively impacts material recyclability. Manufacturers using recycled materials will reject loads that smell like mold or rot. Place food in your compost cart and remember to keep recyclables empty, clean and dry!

7. Electronics or E-Waste – Electronic waste contains toxic materials. Bring these items to The Recology Store (free for Recology customers!) or visit to arrange a special item pickup.

8. Yard Waste – Yard waste negatively impacts material recyclability. Please place yard waste in your compost cart.

9. Pizza Boxes & Waxed Cardboard – Grease and wax aren’t good candidates for paper recycling. Place these items in your compost cart.

10. Plastic Wrap – Plastic that doesn’t hold its shape (frozen food packaging, chip bags, and wrapping around toilet paper) can’t be recycled. Place these items in the garbage.

Bonus: Remember these two mottos to make sure you prepare your materials correctly.

Empty, Clean, and Dry!

Empty any residual food or liquid, clean the container with a quick rinse or scrape, and tap twice to shake of excess moisture before tossing in your recycling cart.

Keep it Loose!

Don’t bag your recycling! Recyclables should be loose in your recycling cart and free of a plastic bag liner.

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