Attention Customers: We're excited to announce that Waste Management, North America's leading environmental solutions provider, has acquired Advanced Disposal. Learn what this means for you here.

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Attention Customers: We're excited to announce that Waste Management, North America's leading environmental solutions provider, has acquired Advanced Disposal. Learn what this means for you here.

Recycle Right means “Clean” Recycling

So what can I recycle?

While recycling is the first step in the process, it’s important to put materials in the cart or bin that actually belong there. Most importantly, we need your help to reduce the contamination of clean recycling materials by separating those with organic material on them. Know before you throw! Always check your local municipality for your individual recycling guidelines. Please visit


Acceptable Items:

(Yes, all those Prime boxes!)
(Office paper, brown paper bags, mail, etc.)
Aluminum Cans, Metal Containers
(After being quickly rinsed)
Plastic Bottles, Jars, Jugs and Containers
(After being quickly rinsed)

Unacceptable Items:

Any Plastic Bags
(No wires, holiday light strings, hoses, cords, etc.)
Food Waste or Liquids
(Organic material)
(All types, especially lithium)
Safe Sharps
(Any needle, syringe, blade, etc.)

Common Recycling Mistakes

These are commonly mistaken items that often show up in recycling carts and bins, but they CANNOT BE RECYCLED AT YOUR CURB. Please don’t toss these in with your recycling.

Plastic Grocery Bags

These are the most common items in the bin or cart that shouldn’t be there, and they can be the most detrimental. When they get caught in the recycling sorter, they have to shut the whole system down and manually pull them out. Instead, consider recycling them by taking them back to the grocery or pharmacy, or big box stores where there are specially designated bins for recycling plastic bags.

Polystyrene (Styrofoam)

Although Styrofoam is recyclable, it requires highly specialized equipment that single stream recycling facilities are not equipped with. Some restaurants (such as Chick-fil-A) accept their own Styrofoam cups for recycling.

Take-Out Containers & Donut Boxes

Food residue can contaminate the boxes or other recyclable material. They can only be recycled if free of food waste and residue from food (think cheese from pizza).

Paper Coffee Cups

Although often thought of as a better alternative to Styrofoam, paper cups pose issues to recycling as well due to the plastic coating applied to prevent leaking. Your best bet is to bring your own mug!

Automotive Parts & Scrap Metals

These are too large and cumbersome for recycling equipment and could cause injury.

Baby Diapers

The plastic from them cannot be salvaged. Plus it’s just plain gross!

Pizza Boxes

This is one of the most common recycling mistakes. Although they are made of cardboard, the grease from the pizza contaminated the raw material. You can tear off the untarnished parts and recycle them though!

Wet Paper

Paper that has gotten wet can make recycling difficult or impossible. Take care to cover your recyclables to keep them safe from the elements. Wet paper should be discarded with the trash.

Milk & Juice Cartons

These are often coated with a thin layer of wax but can still be recycled by many (but not all) communities. Best bet is to check with the local municipality, hauler or recycler to see if these can be recycled.

Aerosol Cans

While these are made of metal, because of the chemicals used to pressurize the cans, they are classified as household hazardous waste and should be discarded as such  – not with recyclables or with the garbage.

Ceramics & Pottery

This includes things like coffee mugs and old flower pots. Look into donating items like this if they are in alright shape, someone else may be able to reuse them!

Shredded Paper

Shredding paper reduces its size so dramatically that it ends up mixed with the residue or glass at recycling facilities. Because the machines sort broken glass and other debris by size, the shredded paper often gets destroyed or disposed of because it ends up in the wrong place. Once it is mixed with glass or residue, it cannot be recovered for recycling.

Household Glass

Items like window panes, mirrors, light bulbs, and dishes are dangerous and should be left out of your recycling. Light bulbs can be recycled at many hardware and home improvement stores. Dishes, if not broken, can be donated to local charities.

Paint, Pesticides, Automotive Fluids, Diesel Fuel, Gasoline, Kerosene & Car Batteries

They cannot be accepted and should be disposed of at a hazardous waste disposal facility.

Hypodermic Needles

At one time, people were told that it was safe to put needles into a plastic bottle. It is not safe. Our workers can be exposed to grave illness and blood borne diseases. People need to properly dispose of used needles.


So Where Do All of Your Recycling Materials Go to Next?

Our Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs) are much more than simple sorting operations.

Instead, they are technological marvels, thriving business units and necessary community infrastructures. They provide a vital need to preserve our natural resources while performing their operations in an economical and efficient manner. By only putting the correct materials in your recycling bin, you also help us to keep productivity high and reduce damage to all our equipment.

Step #1

Trucks unload mixed recycling onto the tipping floor at the MRF. A front loader then moves the recycling onto a conveyor belt.

Step #2

Sort line workers remove film, non-recyclable and bulky items are removed manually.

Step #3

Cardboard is removed by a screen that uses rotating shafts with discs that propel cardboard over the top of the discs and into a holding area. Smaller objects fall through the shafts and proceed for further separation.

Step #4

A finishing screen separates objects by dimension: two dimensional objects (paper) ride up to the top of the screen and are discharged onto a paper sorting line for further separation and three dimensional objects all through the screen.

Step #5

Non-fiber contaminants are removed in a quality control check with manual or optical sorting by grade.

Step #6

A magnet removes steel cans from the stream. 

Step #7

An eddy current separator repels the aluminum cans and foil from the conveyor.

Step #8

Glass bottles and jars are screened out and shattered by steel discs, their shards falling below.

Step #9

An optical or manual sorter separates plastics by resin code (type). 

Step #10

The crushed cans, broken glass and bales of aluminum and plastic are all sent to manufacturers as raw materials.


The Worst Contaminants You Can Put in Your Recycling Cart/Bin

The following items generate the most contamination of your clean recycling materials. Please avoid including these items at all costs!

Any Food Waste and Liquids (This includes containers with any organic residue!)

Take-Out Containers (foam products), Pizza Boxes, and Donut Boxes

Any Plastic Bags (They get caught up in all the machinery)

Holiday lights, wires, or hoses (Anything that can get tangled)

Batteries (Especially lithium!)


Proper Collection Day Cart Placement on Curbside

Advanced Disposal, now part of Waste Management

Waste Management, based in Houston, Texas, is the leading provider of comprehensive waste management environmental services in North America. Through its subsidiaries, Waste Management provides collection, transfer, disposal services, and recycling and resource recovery.  It is also a leading developer, operator and owner of landfill gas-to-energy facilities in the United States.  Waste Management’s customers include residential, commercial, industrial, and municipal customers throughout North America.  To learn more information about Waste Management, visit

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If you are a residential customer, please don’t forget to regularly visit both your local municipality’s solid waste page as well as our local facility and your community’s individual page (scroll down slightly on your local facility page to the Guidelines for Municipal Customers tab) and click on the link for your community’s garbage collection guidelines and holiday schedule. Thank you!


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