Basics of Good Recycling

It's time to get back to the basics of good recycling.  

The advent of single stream or putting all your recycling in a cart led many people to recycle more than they ever had before.  But having a big cart to throw everything into has led to higher contamination in the recycling.  Let's get back to basics and clean up our recycling habits.

The fact is that some recycling actions make a bigger impact than others.  Please remember these three basic rules the next time you recycle:

  1. Recycle all empty plastic bottles, cans, paper cartons, clean paper and cardboard boxes.  See the list below for acceptable items.
  2. Remove food debris, liquid, plastic film and greasy or hazardous items from your recycling.
  3. Place recyclables directly in your cart.  Do not bag them.  (Paper bags are preferred if you need to use bags.)  Return plastic bags to a local grocer or retailer. 

You’d be amazed by how big of an impact just following these simple rules can have!  There are increasing amounts of non-recyclables being sent to recycling sorting facilities, and every single one of them must be removed by hand or mechanically sorted, or they end up contaminating valuable recyclables.  Non-recyclable items placed in recycling containers end up in the garbage, which increases the cost of the recycling process.  The right thing to do is put the correct recyclables in the containers and don’t hope or wish that the haulers can magically recycle them.  Avoid "wish-cycling".  When in doubt, throw it out.   Or see if there is a recycling option in our Recycling and Disposal Directory.

Place these items loose in your recycling cart.  No plastic bags.

  1. Recycling & Resource Solutions


    Phone: 763-324-3400
    Fax: 763-324-3410

    Business Recycling
    763-324-3481

    Office Hours
    Monday - Friday
    8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.


Mixed recycling in cart cropped

Paper (clean, staples OK): mail, office and school papers , magazines and catalogs, newspapers and inserts, phone books.

Boxes (flatten): cardboard, cereal, cracker and pasta boxes, shoe, gift and electronics boxes, toothpaste and other toiletry boxes, tissue boxes.

Plastic bottles and jugs (empty, rinse, caps on): water, soda and juice  bottles, milk and juice jugs, ketchup and salad dressing bottles, dish soap bottles and detergent jugs, shampoo, soap and lotion bottles.

Plastic cups and containers (empty, rinse, lids on): yogurt, pudding and fruit cups, clear disposable cups (no straws), margarine, cottage cheese and similar containers, clear produce, deli and take out containers.

Cartons (empty, rinse): milk cartons, juice cartons, juice boxes, soup, broth and wine cartons.

Metal (empty, labels OK): food cans, beverage cans.


Glass (empty, labels OK): food and beverage bottles and jars.

Leave these out, since they...

Get tangled in or damage sorting equipment: plastic bags, ropes, hoses, shredded paper, chains, scrap metal, and other bulky items.

Harm workers: medical sharps, diapers, batteries, hazardous products.

Are not recyclable: foil drink pouches, chip bags, candy wrappers, dishes, vases, mirrors, plastic straws and utensils, refrigerator and freezer boxes, Styrofoam, pizza boxes, black food trays and egg cartons. 


Refer to our guide to help you improve your recycling.