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.
4/15 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.
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.
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.
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. Find options by searching the Ramsey County Disposal Guide.
7/15/2020 Recycle Smart: Keep propane tanks out of your recycling cart.
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.
8/1/2020 Recycle Smart: Keep plastic bags out of 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 only 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, and retail stores.
Find drop off locations at PlasticFilmRecycling.org
8/15/2020 Recycle Smart: Keep electronics and batteries out of your recycling cart.
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. Find disposal options below.
- 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 a pickup. Find more info here.
- Household batteries: These items are not accepted* in residential recycling or garbage collection programs. Drop these off at the Ramsey County Hazardous Waste site or an alternate battery recycler.
- Electronic items: Items with batteries that you cannot remove, such as certain cell phones, e-cigs, and electronic toothbrushes should be taken to an electronics recycler. Find disposal options here.
- *Alkaline batteries (A, AA, AAA, C, & D) can be disposed of in the garbage, but should be taken to the Ramsey County Hazardous Waste site for recycling. These batteries do not contain mercury and do not need special handling.
Recycle Smart and do your part to properly recycle electronics and batteries. Find details about Garbage Service bulky item collections and HHW disposal options at stpaul.gov/recycle.
9/1/2020 Recycle Smart: Keep needles and syringes out of your recycling cart.
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 the Ramsey County drop-off facility for proper recycling.
- Purchase a sharps needle destruction device for your home to bend, break, incinerate, or shear sharps.
Learn about disposal options HERE.
9/15/2020 Recycle Smart. Keep paper plates and cups out of your recycling cart.
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 identify that they have been certified to fully and safely 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.
10/1/2020 Recycle Smart. Keep toys out of your recycling cart.
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 them difficult, or impossible, to recycle.
For unwanted but usable toys, offer them to your friends, family, and neighbors; hold a garage sale, or
- Post online: Nextdoor, Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist
- Bring toys to a donation center or second-hand store: Goodwill, Salvation Army, Bridging, Arc’s Value Village
- Bring sporting goods to an equipment reseller: Play it Again Sports, Way to go Sports, Instant Replay
Recycle Smart and do your part by purchasing high-quality toys or, better yet, buy them used! If they’re still in good shape when your family is done with them, donate, sell, or give them away.
10/15/2020 Recycle Smart. Keep bagged recycling out of your 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. Using paper bags to collect containers (plastic, glass and metal) is also discouraged. Recyclables in paper bags can get smashed together inside the bag and become difficult to separate at the recycling facility.
Recycle Smart and do your part by putting your recyclables loose in your recycling cart.