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This page contains information regarding how and where to recycle a variety of materials. Please visit our Links page for building resource and energy efficiency information.

Recycling Guide

There are many items you use everyday that can be, or should be recycled. These include waste items made of glass, plastic, metal, or paper. There are also many other items that should be recycled because of their potential to pollute the environment. Below is list of items and how they can be recycled.

Most recycling services are free

Glass containers - Most clear glass containers are recyclable and are the most valued. Colored glass is recycled separately from clear glass. Containers made of ceramics, Pyrex, window glass, light bulbs, and mirrors are typically not accepted for recycling. You do not need to remove labels from containers, but you should remove lids, caps, or metal rings, and rinse out the containers.

Newspapers - Most newspapers and newspaper inserts can be recycled. Newspapers for recycling should be kept dry to avoid contamination by water, dirt, or mold. Items that may arrive with the newspaper that are not recyclable include rubber bands or plastic bags. Do not put magazines, catalogs, junk mail, or food containers in with your newspapers, as they are recycled with a different process.
Fact: every ton of newspapers recycled saves 17 trees, 7000 gallons of water, and enough energy to heat a home for six months.

Mixed Paper - Mixed paper from magazines, catalogs, and junk mail can be recycled. Unacceptable items are waxed paper, milk cartons, carbon paper, laminated paper, neon paper, napkins, tissue, or any wet or food stained paper. Some recyclers will also accept telephone books.

Shipping & Packing Supplies - Packing boxes, corrugated cardboard, foam food containers, shipping peanuts, and Styrofoam sheets can all be recycled. Waxed cardboard produce boxes cannot be recycled and foam food containers should be rinsed out. Check your area for recycling availability.

Office Paper - Most office paper can be recycled, including pastel colors, post-it notes, envelopes (with or without plastic windows), brochures, pamphlets, and manila or pastel file folders. Staples and paper clips can be left in these items, but non-water soluble tapes and adhesives should be removed. Do not recycle unbleached cardboard, brown paper, bright colors, adhesive labels, wax/plastic coated papers, or newspapers with office paper.

Metal Cans - Most metal cans can be recycled many times. Aluminum cans and tin cans should be recycled separately. Do not recycle cans containing paints, cleaners, or other hazardous materials. You do not need to remove labels from containers. Cans should not be in sacks or bags when recycled.
Fact: Every year, Americans throw away enough aluminum to rebuild the commercial airline fleet four times over.

Plastics - Plastics stamped #1, #2, or #4 are typically recycled, where other types are not. Remove any liquids from the bottles, rinse them out, and check the container caps or rings, as they may be of a different plastic type; throw them away if they are not marked. Even a small amount of the wrong type of plastic can ruin a batch, this causes a large portion of recycled plastic to be sent to the landfill.
Fact: Every hour, Americans throw away 2.5 million plastic containers.

Motor Oil - Used motor oil can be recycled or used as a heating fuel. Oil should never, under any circumstances, be dumped onto the ground or down a storm drain. Dumped oil will eventually contaminate water supplies in many areas. Most cities have free collection points for used oil, and many motor service businesses will accept your used oil for recycling. Before disposing of used oil filters, punch a hole in the top of the filter, and allow it to drain into your oil container for 24 hours.
Fact: One gallon of motor oil can contaminate a million gallons of water.

Automotive Batteries - Automotive batteries should be recycled at a qualified supplier in order to keep lead out of the environment. Never throw "dead" batteries in the trash.

Rechargeable Batteries - Rechargeable batteries, such as Nickel-Cadmium (NiCad) batteries, should be recycled in order to keep cadmium out of the environment. Cadmium can pollute water supplies if these batteries are sent to a landfill. Rechargeable devices such as cordless telephones, power tools, or cell phones may use NiCad batteries. Alkaline and heavy duty batteries can be thrown away unless prohibited by local law.

Household Wastes - Household wastes such as paint, pesticides, chemical cleaners, oils, etc. should never be sent to a landfill in liquid form or poured down storm drains, as they can leach into the ground and pollute ground water. These substances should be allowed to dry completely before sending to a landfill, or should be taken to a local hazardous waste site. Leave chemicals in the original containers, and do not mix different chemicals into containers. Most cities provide this service for free.

Refrigerators, Heat Pumps, & Air conditioners - These items all use Chlorinated Fluorocarbons (CFCs) as a cooling agent. CFCs are know to cause deterioration of the ozone layer that protects the earth from the harmful rays of the sun. The CFCs from these devices should be removed by a professional and recycled as opposed to being released into the atmosphere. Many landfills and recycling centers offer this service for free.

Yard Waste - You can recycle most of the waste generated by your yard. Grass clippings, leaves, clippings from trees, and garden waste can be recycled and converted into compost. This compost can be used in many areas of your garden/yard. A mulching mower can eliminate most of your yard clippings. Excess waste can be taken to a local composting center.
Fact: Over 19% of all landfill material is yard waste.

White Goods - appliances (white goods) can be recycled or reused. If they work, you can sell them through the newspaper or have them picked up by a second-hand appliance dealer. Some appliances may be reused with minor repair. Appliances that cannot be recycled will have to be disposed of to a scrap yard or to the land fill. Most land fills treat waste appliances separately from other waste. Appliances containing CFCs will need to have the CFCs removed before disposal.


Reuse and Source Reduction

We can also have a distinct impact on our environment by purchasing reusable items and by purchasing items that reduce un-recyclable waste (source reduction).

How can you increase reuse?
• Have a garage sale or donate items to reduce your inventory
• Buy reusable items and avoid buying single use items
• Reuse bags, containers, paper, boxes, and other items
• Borrow or rent items instead of buying them
• Buy used or recycled construction materials
• Buy items that are recycled or have recycled content

How can you reduce source waste?
• Buy products as concentrates, returnables, or in economy-size containers
• Buy used items when possible and practical
• Use sealable containers rather than plastic wrap
• Select products with the least wasteful packaging
• Buy, maintain, and repair durable products
• Buy products made of recycled materials
• Remove your name from the mailing lists of materials you do not want

Write to:
 Direct Marketing Association
6 E. 42nd St.
New York, NY 10017

A book that you may be interested in is: "50 simple things you can do to save the Earth"


Recycling Links - The Internet Consumer Recycling Guide. - EEK - Our Earth - Recycling and Beyond. - Washington State kids recycling page.