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 Hennepin and Ramsey Counties, Saint Paul is partnering with the City of Minneapolis on a new 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.
Paper cups and plates cannot be recycled because they are often lined with plastic or contaminated with food.
Napkins and paper towels can be composted at Ramsey County organics recycling drop-off sites. Some paper plates and cups may also be accepted for composting, but these products must have the BPI logo on them to ensure that they are certified to fully break down in the composting process. If you’re unsure if an item is certified for compostability, check BPI’s website or put the item in the garbage.
Recycle Smart and avoid using disposable paper plates and cups by choosing reusable options instead. If you need to use disposables, purchase compostable products.
Paper to-go containers cannot be recycled because they are often lined with plastic or contaminated with food. Unlined paper to-go containers, plates, napkins and paper towels can be composted though Ramsey County’s 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. The equipment used at recycling facilities cannot sort or detect black plastics. There are no markets that can use #6 or black plastics.
Recycle Smart and avoid using disposable take-out containers by making meals at home or frequenting restaurants that use compostable products. When dining out try sharing meals to reduce left-over food or bring your own reusable to-go container to the restaurant instead.
Needles and syringes should never be placed in your recycling cart. Prevent injuries and disease transmission by disposing of these items safely through one of the following options:
- Participate in a collection program through your healthcare provider.
- Participate in mail-back programs through sharps recyclers.
- Bring your sharps to a Ramsey County drop-off facility for proper disposal.
- Purchase a sharps needle destruction device for your home to bend, break, incinerate, or shear sharps.
Batteries and electronics can damage equipment and harm workers collecting and sorting your recycling. Batteries are especially dangerous as they can start fires at recycling sorting facilities.
Recycle Smart and do your part to properly recycle electronics and batteries.
- Larger electronics such as TVs, computer monitors and computer towers: Residents with Citywide Garbage Service may have these collected as a bulky item. Contact your garbage hauler to schedule pickup. Find other electronics disposal options here.
- Household batteries: Must be dropped off at a free a Ramsey County Hazardous Waste site or mobile collection event. Electronic items with batteries that you cannot remove, such as a musical greeting card or electronic toothbrush should also be dropped off at a Ramsey County Hazardous Waste site or mobile collection event.
- Car batteries and other sealed lead-acid batteries: These items are not accepted in residential recycling or garbage collection programs. Bring them to a Ramsey County Hazardous Waste site, or find other disposal options.
Plastic utensils and straws are too small and difficult to sort at recycling facilities, and there are no recycling markets for them. Recycle Smart and and do your part to avoid plastic utensils and straws. Choose reusable options instead, or try not using them as often as you can.
Paper cups and plates cannot be recycled because they are often lined with plastic or contaminated with food. Recycle Smart and avoid using disposable paper plates and cups by choosing reusable or compostable options instead.
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 recycling.
Recycle Smart and do your part by properly disposing of all propane tanks. Bring propane cylinders to a Ramsey County Hazardous Waste site.
Random metal items such as pots and pans, pipes, hangers, and tools can damage equipment and harm workers at recycling sorting facilities and cannot be placed 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. Contact our office for more information.
Kids toys, large or small, are not designed to be sorted at recycling facilities. They often contain more than one material (plastic, metal, textiles, or batteries) making it difficult or impossible to recycle.
Recycle smart and do your part by purchasing high-quality toys – and even better, buy them used. If they’re still in good shape when your family is done with them, donate, sell, or give them away.
Laundry baskets, plastic lawn furniture, storage bins, plastic toys, and other large plastic items can't be recycled in your recycling cart. Recycling facilities are not designed to handle larger plastic items. They are difficult to sort at recycling facilities, and there are no good markets to recycle them.
Recycle smart and do your part by purchasing high-quality items, using them for as long as possible, and donating items that are in good shape when you're ready to get rid of them.
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 recyclers can’t tell what’s in the bag. Plastic bags contaminate the recycling, and recyclables inside of plastic bags often end up in the garbage. Recycle smart and do your part by putting your recyclables loose in your recycling cart.
Plastic bags and wrap get tangled in the equipment at recycling sorting facilities and workers spend hours each day removing them. plastic bags and wrap can be recycled if brought back to a retail drop-off location.
Recycle Smart and do your part to reduce and recycle plastic bags and wrap. Bring reusable bags with you when shopping, and recycle plastic bags and wrap at drop-off locations including, grocery stores, food co-ops, retail stores.
Find drop off locations at PlasticFilmRecycling.org