Recycle Smart

Know what goes in your recycling cart!

Recycling has been in the news a lot lately due to shifts in markets and international policy changes. This has left many Minnesotans wondering what is happening to the recycling placed in their carts, and what they can do now to support recycling. In Saint Paul, 100% of residential materials are marketed in North America with 85% of recyclable materials marketed in Minnesota. Even with local and regional markets, the quality control and demand for clean material is ever increasing. It is important now, more than ever, to know what can be recycled and keep problem materials out of your cart.

With support from Ramsey County, Saint Paul is running the Recycle Smart campaign to raise awareness about the importance of recycling the right things. The campaign will focus on important items to keep out of your recycling cart, such as plastic bags, large plastic items, and random metal items. Look for the campaign on Metro Transit ads, social media, and other media outlets starting in April. Learn more here throughout the campaign.

Learn what can be recycled in Saint Paul             Information for Minneapolis Residents


4/15 Recycle Smart: Know what goes in your recycling cart.

Image with Text: Recycle Smart: Know what goes in your recycling cart

Doing some extra spring cleaning? Make it your goal to recycle more and recycle right. Keeping non-recyclable items out of your cart helps reduce challenges with collection, sorting, and processing your items into something new. If you put the right things in your cart, they will be recycled. Recycle Smart, do your part and pledge to only put the right items in your recycling cart.

Follow the link for a full list of accepted recyclables!


5/1 Recycle Smart: Keep most take-out containers out of your recycling cart.

Image with Text: Recycle Smart: Don't put most take-out containers in your recycling cart

Styrofoam™ (#6 plastic) and black plastic to-go containers cannot be recycled because they are an unmarketable plastic. Paper to-go containers cannot be recycled because they are often lined with plastic film or contaminated with food. Certified compostable containers and paper plates, napkins, and paper towels can be composted through the Ramsey County Organics Recycling program or an organics recycling drop-off site but cannot be recycled.

All black plastics, and to-go containers that are made of #6 plastic (either foam or hard plastic) are not recyclable in our program. The equipment used at recycling facilities cannot sort or detect black plastics. There are no markets that can use #6 or black plastics.


5/15 Recycle Smart: Don't put recycling in a plastic bag in your recycling cart.

Image with Text: Recycle Smart, Don't put recycling in a plastic bag in your recycling cart.

Make sure your recyclables are placed loose in your recycling cart. Recyclables in plastic bags don’t get properly sorted at the recycling facility and often end up in the garbage.  Remember to not put any plastic bags in your recycling cart.

Recycle smart and do your part by putting your recyclables loose in your recycling cart.


7/1/2020 Recycle Smart: Keep random metal items out of your recycling cart.

Image with Text: Text says Recycle Smart, Keep random metal items out of your recycling cart, Image depicts metal hangers, metal cooking pans, a metal gutter, and a metal exhaust pipe

Random metal items such as pots and pans, pipes, hangers, and tools can damage equipment and harm workers at recycling sorting facilities. Do not place these items in your recycling cart. Recycle Smart and do your part by taking random metal items to a scrap metal recycler or bring them to a Saint Paul Citywide Drop Off event (event dates for fall 2020 are TBD).


7/15/2020 Recycle Smart: Keep propane tanks out of your recycling cart.

Image with Text: text says recycle smart, keep propane tanks out of your recycling cart, image depicts 2 metal propane tanks

Whether you’re grilling out or gearing up for a camping trip, it is important to remember that it is illegal to put propane tanks, helium tanks, and other pressurized cylinders in your recycling or garbage carts. Cylinders and tanks contain a compressed gas which makes them explosive and a potential fire hazard. They are extremely dangerous for workers collecting and sorting your recyclables.

Recycle Smart and do your part by properly disposing of all propane tanks. Bring all pressurized gas cylinders and tanks to the Ramsey County Hazardous Waste Collection site for free.