Why Can't I Put These in My Recycling Cart? 

We know recycling can be confusing.

If your question isn't answered here, please let us know!
Want to talk to a person?
Call (253) 798-2179, Monday to Friday, 8 a.m.–4 p.m.
a picture of cartons
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.
a picture of cartons
Shredded Paper
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.

Shred events are a great alternative to shredding at home.
a picture of paper plates and cups
Paper Plates and Cups
Dirty paper is not recyclable. Even clean, these items are made of a lower-quality fiber and have plastic liners. Paper can only be recycled so many times before its quality degrades.
a picture of paper towels and napkins
Paper Towels and Napkins
Dirty paper is not recyclable. Even clean, these items are made of the lowest quality fiber, and have reached the end of their recyclability.
a picture of a greasy pizza box
Greasy Pizza Box
Greasy cardboard is not recyclable. If the box is clean, you can recycle the cardboard. Do not put pizza boxes in your yard waste container.
a photo of plastic packaging
Plastic Packaging
Chip bags and juice pouches and other types of "flexible packaging" are made of layers of plastic film and foil. These materials are difficult to process and recycle.
a photo of plastic containers
Crinkly Plastics
Lightweight plastics like cups, clamshell packaging for produce and packaging around toys and electronics are easily crushed during collection and processing. Items that are flattened are sorted incorrectly as paper.
a photo of foam containers
Foam Trays and Containers
Polystyrene foam is so lightweight that storing and shipping it is not cost-effective. Food containers are also dirty, and they are difficult to clean. There are options for the hard blocks that are used in packaging. Find locations for recycling foam block and peanuts in our recycling menu.
a photo of plastic utensils
Utensils and Straws
These disposable items are not recyclable. Our recycling program accepts plastic containers by shape: bottles, jugs, tubs, jars, buckets and plant pots.
a photo of coffee pods
Coffee Pods
Coffee pods are made from various materials and are not accepted in our curbside recycling program. To recycle, check with your coffee pod manufacturer. Some run their own recycling take-back programs for coffee pods.
a photo of a prescription bottle
Prescription Bottles
The end-users who buy plastics for recycling do not want prescription pill bottles included because of the residue that may be present. Empty bottles that held over-the-counter medications, vitamins and supplements are accepted in our recycling program (throw lids in the trash).
a photo of lids
Lids are either too small or too flat to be sorted properly.
a photo of a bags and wrap
Bags and Wrap
Plastic bags and plastic wrap get tangled in machinery at sorting facilities. Recycle this material at participating grocery stores.
a photo of an aluminum plate and foil
Aluminum foil, pans and plates
Aluminum cans are recycled back into aluminum cans. Foil, plates and pans are usually dirty and are not compatible with the aluminum beverage can recycling process.
a photo of scrap metal
Metal Scrap and Wire
Scrap metal and wire pose a safety hazard for employees at recycling centers.
Find scrap metal recycling options in our recycling menu.
a picture of a glass bottles and jars
Bottles and Jars
Glass breaks in the cart and contaminates the other recyclables. The glass collected at our drop-off sites goes directly to a local glass recycler.
Find drop-off locations for glass.
a picture of a glass, a bowl and a plate
Glassware, Dishes, Windows, Mirrors and all other glass
This material cannot be recycled with bottles and jars at our drop-off locations. Throw broken dishes, glasses, windows, mirrors and all other glass in the garbage. Items in good condition can be donated.
Find donation locations for glassware and dishes in good condition in our recycling menu.