Why Can't I Put These in My Recycling Cart?
There are several factors that determine if an item can be recycled. To determine what can go in your curbside bin, what needs to be taken to a drop off location and what is garbage; Pierce County must consider:
-the value of the material
-if it can be efficiently collected and sorted
-if it can be resold
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The moisture in cartons contaminates the rest of the paper. Cartons are also made of layers of different materials, including plastic, paper and sometimes metal. This makes them difficult to recycle into new products.
Modern shredders cut paper into such small pieces that there isn't enough fiber left to recover. Loose shreds become confetti at sorting facilities and end up swept into the garbage. Instead of shredding sensitive documents at home, bring them to one of our free paper shredding events.
Food-stained and dirty paper is not recyclable. Paper cups and plates also have plastic liners that are difficult to separate from the paper.
These items are made of the lowest quality fiber and have reached the end of their recyclability.
Greasy, food-stained cardboard is not recyclable because it contaminates clean paper. If your pizza box is clean and empty, you can recycle it. You can also recycle the top of the box by tearing it off. Do not put pizza boxes in your yard waste container.
Chip bags, juice pouches, and other types of flexible packaging are made of layers of plastic film and aluminum foil. These materials are difficult to separate and recycle.
Lightweight crinkly plastics like cups, clamshell packaging for produce, and packaging around toys and electronics are easily crushed during collection and processing. Crinkly plastic items that have been flattened during processing are frequently sorted incorrectly as paper and then contaminate the paper they are collected with.
Polystyrene foam (Sytrofoam) is so lightweight that storing and shipping it is not cost-effective. Polystyrene food containers are also dirty and difficult to clean. You can use our Recycling Menu to find drop-off locations for recycling polystyrene blocks and packing peanuts.
The shape of plastic utensils and straws makes them difficult to recycle because they fall through the sorting equipment.
Coffee pods are made from various materials which are difficult to separate. The plastic cups are also small and fall through the recycling sorting equipment. Some coffee pod manufacturers, such as Keurig and Nespresso have their own recycling take-back programs - check the manufacturer's website to find out.
Prescription pill bottles may contain residues that makes them undesirable for recyclers. The containers are also made of a brittle plastic that is different from the material used to make over-the-counter bottles. Over-the-counter medication bottles, in contrast, can be recycled in your cart once you have removed their lids.
Lids are either too small or too flat to be captured by the recycling sorting equipment.
Plastic bags and plastic wrap get tangled in the machinery at mixed recycling sorting facilities and cause frequent facility shutdowns. To recycle plastic bags and wrap, take them to participating stores, where they will be collected and sorted at a facility dedicated to plastic bags and wrap.
Aluminum foil, plates, and pans are usually dirty and are not compatible with the aluminum can recycling process.
Scrap metal and wire pose a safety hazard for employees at recycling centers. Scrap metal can be recycled if it is taken to a metal recycler - find the one closest to you with our Recycling Menu.
Glass breaks in recycling carts and contaminates recyclables such as paper. When recycled paper contaminated with shards of glass is processed at a paper mill, the glass damages the mill equipment. To prevent contamination of other recyclables, glass is collected at drop-off sites and sent to a glass recycler in Seattle, where the glass is made into bottles.
These types of glass cannot be recycled with bottles and jars at our drop-off locations because they contain different additives than container glass. Place broken glasses, dishes, windows, mirrors and all other glass in the garbage. Items in good condition can be donated to thrift stores.