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

We know recycling can be confusing.

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
If your question isn't answered here, please let us know! 
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Call (253) 798-2179, Monday to Friday, 8 a.m.–4 p.m.


  1. Cartons
  2. Shredded Paper
  3. Paper Plates & Cups
  4. Paper Towels and Napkins
  5. Greasy Pizza Box

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.


  1. Plastic Packaging
  2. Crinkly Plastics
  3. Foam Trays & Containers
  4. Utensils & Straws

a photo of plastic packaging

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.

  1. Coffee Pods
  2. Prescription Bottles
  3. Lids
  4. Bags & Wrap

a photo of coffee pods

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.


  1. Aluminum Foil, Pans & Plates
  2. Metal Scrap & Wire

a photo of an aluminum plate and foil

Aluminum foil, plates, and pans are usually dirty and are not compatible with the aluminum can recycling process.


  1. Bottles & Jars
  2. Glassware, Dishes, Windows, Mirrors & Other Glass

a picture of a glass bottles and jars

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.