How do I recycle right?

Studies show that most Americans want to recycle, but they are not sure how. Knowing what you can and cannot recycle can be confusing, especially because it varies depending on where you live. However, with growing concerns about the state of our environment, proper recycling is crucial. Here’s a guide to how you can recycle right.

Paper and Cardboard

Almost all printing and writing paper can be recycled. This includes office paper, magazines, receipts, paper bags, envelopes, and more. It is okay to recycle paper with staples in it. However, soft paper such as tissues, paper towels, and napkins cannot be recycled, and neither can paper with plastic coating, such as candy wrappers. Soiled or wet paper should also be thrown in the trash. Boxes and other types of cardboard can be recycled if they are flattened down and tied. Paper cartons such as milk cartons should be recycled with cans and bottles.


Plastics can be recycled by their shape; look for bottles and jugs. Like other materials, if you are recycling a plastic container, please ensure that it does not have any food in it. Plastic caps can be recycled along with other plastic materials. Simply place the plastic cap back on the bottle after emptying it out. Plastic bags should only be used to hold recyclables; loose bags should never be included for recycling.


Aluminum and tin cans can be recycled. This includes soup cans, soda cans, and other types of cans, but you must make sure that they do not contain any food particles when recycling them. Similarly, aluminum foil can be recycled, but it must be wiped clean of any food before doing so. Please wipe these items down before recycling them. Empty aerosol cans can also be recycled, but if the can has a plastic lid you should remove it and place it with the plastic recycling. Other metal waste, such as car parts and microwaves, should not be placed in your regular recycling bin.


Styrofoam cannot be recycled. Please throw it away in the trash.


We are currently working on a glass recycling program, but in the meantime please do not place glass bottles and containers in with your recycling. Place them in a clear bag by themselves and set them out next to your other recyclables.


Food and liquids cannot be recycled. This means that if you are recycling any kind of food container, whether it be plastic, aluminum, or paper, it must not contain any food. If the item cannot be rinsed off to remove the food, please do not recycle it. However, most leftover food can be composted. To learn more about our composting service, please visit the composting section of our website.


Most batteries, including car batteries and regular household batteries, can be recycled, but they cannot be thrown in a regular recycling bin. Many automotive retailers will take back car batteries. If you are recycling a large volume of wires, they can be recycled by local scrap metal dealers. For electronics such as cell phones, you should take them back to the place of purchase for them to be recycled. You can email to find out more about how to recycle batteries and other electronics.


Clothing and other textiles should not be thrown into your regular recycling bin. Consider donating clothes that you don’t want to Salvation Army or other clothing donation locations.

When in doubt, throw it out!

If you are still unsure of whether something should be recycled or not, it is always better to throw it in the trash.

Download Our Recycling Contaminants Poster   Download Our Single Stream Recycling Poster


Smith, Catharine. “Recycling Tips: How to Avoid Throwing the Wrong Stuff in Your Bin.” HuffPost, HuffPost, 18 June 2019,

“What Can I Recycle.” Waste Management, Waste Management, Inc.,

“What to Recycle.” DSNY – The City of New York Department of Sanitation, City of New York,

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