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. Learn more here throughout the campaign.

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

Recycle Smart. Keep fancy gift wrap, tissue paper, and decorations out of your recycling cart.

15 December 2021

Wrapping paper with glitter or foil, as well as tissue paper, ribbons, and bows are not recyclable. Instead of traditional wrapping paper, choose low-waste gift wrap like reusable fabric bags, paper bags, old maps, or newspaper. If purchasing wrapping paper, choose to purchase paper that is recyclable or made from recycled paper. Recycle Smart and keep glitter, foil, ribbons, and bows out of your recycling cart!

Image of gift bags with text: Recycle Smart, keep fancy gift wrap, tissue paper, and decorations out of your recycling cart

Consider alternative additional low-waste wrapping ideas:

  • Wrap the gift in a colorful cloth. The cloth can be part of the gift or just a fun reusable way to wrap.
  • Flatten packing paper and let kids draw on the outside.
  • Pinch the end of toilet paper or paper towel tubes to wrap small items.

 

 

Recycle Smart. Keep holiday lights and electrical cords out of your recycling cart.

1 December 2021

image of hose, cord, and rope with text: recycle smart, keep hoses and other tanglers out of your recycling cart

Keep "tanglers" like cords, hoses, and string lights out of your recycling cart. Like plastic bags, these items get wrapped around equipment at recycling facilities and workers spend hours removing them from machinery.

You can recycle cords and string lights at Ramsey County’s Hazardous Waste Facility. From December 1 – January 20 you can also drop holiday lights and electrical cords at Saint Paul Libraries and a few other locations. For details, visit Saint Paul Holiday Lights Recycling.

 

 

 

Recycle Smart. Keep toys and batteries out of your recycling cart.

1 November 2021 

Kids toys, large or small, with or without batteries, cannot be placed in your recycling cart. They are not designed to be sorted at recycling facilities because they often contain more than one material (plastic, metal, textiles) and are odd-shaped. This makes them difficult- or impossible- to recycle. Batteries are especially dangerous because they can start fires at recycling sorting facilities.

image of toys with batteries with text: recycle smart, keep toys and batteries out of your recycling cart

For unwanted but usable toys, offer them to your friends, family, and neighbors. Otherwise, consider these options:

 

Recycle Smart and do your part by purchasing high quality toys, donating usable toys, and properly recycling electronics and batteries at drop-off locations: Battery Recycling and Electronics Recycling. If broken toys do not contain batteries, they can be placed in your garbage cart.

Recycle Smart. Know what goes in your recycling cart.

1 November 2021 

Before you throw something in the garbage, try to reuse it in a new way, or ask yourself, “Can I recycle this?” It is important to recycle right to prevent problems at recycling facilities and create quality items from those recyclables. Recycle Smart, do your part and pledge to recycle the right items in your recycling cart!

image of man putting recycling into cart with text: recycle smart, know what goes in your recycling

Here are some tips for recycling right:

  • Keep a separate recycling container or paper bag next to your garbage can.
  • Post a list of what items you can recycle next to your recycling container or on your refrigerator.
  • Save and reference Saint Paul and Ramsey County annual recycling guides that come in the mail.
  •  
  • View a list of materials accepted for recycling at stpaul.gov/recycle.
  • Search items you still don’t know what to do with RamseyRecycles.com/AtoZ.

Recycle Smart. Keep shredded paper out of your recycling cart.

15 October 2021 

Do not put shredded paper in your recycling cart! The tiny pieces of shredded paper won’t get recycled. Once shredded paper arrives at recycling facilities, it acts like confetti and sticks to other recyclable materials. It contaminates other materials and lowers their value.

image of a bag of shredded paper with text: keep shredded paper out of your recycling cart

It’s important to shred documents to keep your confidential information safe and it’s also important to recycle properly. Shredded paper can be dropped off at a Saint Paul Citywide Drop Off Event or taken to one of many local businesses who shred paper:

  • Fed Ex – Saint Paul                                           651-699-9671
  • Pioneer Secure Shred – Minneapolis       612-381-2199
  • Shred Right – Saint Paul                                651-647-3484
  • Shred-it – Minneapolis                                   952-856-3790
  • UPS (Iron Mountain) – Saint Paul              651-222-2019
  • West Rock – Saint Paul                                  651-641-4938

 

Find additional locations here: Ramsey County Paper Shredding Business List. Shredded paper can also be bagged and placed in your garbage container.

Recycle Smart. Keep toys and large plastic items out of your recycling cart.

1 October 2021

Plastic toys, sporting equipment, and large plastic items cannot be placed in your recycling cart. These items cannot be sorted at recycling facilities. They often contain more than one material (plastic, metal, textiles, or batteries) making them difficult- or impossible- to recycle.

Image of plastic toys and bulky objects with text: Recycle Smart, keep toys and large plastic items out of your recycling cart

For unwanted but usable items, offer them to your friends, family, and neighbors. Here are some ideas for getting rid of usable items:

 

 

For unusable items, place them in your garbage. If they are too large, contact your garbage hauler about picking them up as a bulky item or take them to a facility that accepts trash.

Recycle Smart and do your part by purchasing high-quality items 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.

Recycle Smart. Keep plastic bags out of your recycling cart.

15 September 2021

graphic showing crossed out image of plastic bags and plastic film

Plastic bags and plastic wrap get tangled in equipment at recycling sorting facilities. Workers have to shut down equipment and spend hours each day removing them. Plastic bags and plastic wrap can be recycled if brought back to a retail drop-off location.

Recycle Smart, do your part to reduce and recycle plastic bags/plastic wrap. Bring reusable bags with you when shopping or choose paper bags. For food storage, use wax wraps, reusable covers, or washable containers. Plastic bags and plastic wrap can also be recycled by bringing them to a drop-off location. Find drop-off locations at PlasticFilmRecycling.org.

 

Recycle Smart. Keep propane tanks out of your recycling cart.

1 September 2021

Image of an old propane tank with text: Recycle Smart, keep propane tanks out of your recycling cart

Whether you’re grilling out or gearing up for a camping trip, 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 recyclables.

Empty, non-hazardous metal aerosol cans such as cooking spray and hairspray, can be placed in recycling containers.

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.

 

Recycle Smart. Keep clothes and linens out of your recycling cart.

15 August 2021

Image of torn clothing with text: Recycle Smart, keep clothes and linens out of your recycling cart

Clothes, linens, and other textiles should never be placed in your recycling container! These items cause serious issues at recycling facilities by tangling in sorting equipment. Workers have to shut down the equipment to cut these items loose. This puts them in danger and slows down the recycling process. Unfortunately, there are also few markets for turning these non-reusable textiles into new products.

Clothes, linens, and textiles that are in good condition can be donated to a variety of businesses for resale or for those in need. Find a companies who accept these items at RamseyRecycles.com/AtoZ. For items that are beyond use, consider turning the material into rags. Otherwise, non-reusable materials should be placed in your garbage container.

 

Recycle Smart. Keep large plastic items out of your recycling cart.

1 August 2021

Image of plastic totes and baskets with text: Recycle Smart, keep large plastic items out of your recycling cart

Plastic lawn furniture, laundry baskets, storage bins, plastic toys, and other large plastic items can't be recycled in your recycling cart. Recycling facilities are not designed to handle these types of plastic items. They are difficult to sort at recycling facilities and there are no good markets to turn them into new products.

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. Broken items can be placed in your garbage container.

 

Recycle Smart. Keep needles and syringes out of your recycling cart.

15 July 2021

Image of needles with text: 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.

Recycle Smart. Keep plastic utensils and straws out of your recycling cart.

1 July 2021 

Image of plastic utensils and cutlery with text: Recycle Smart, keep plastic utensils out of your recycling cart

Plastic utensils and straws are too small and difficult to sort at recycling facilities and there is no market for these items to be turned into new products. Additionally, if these items are littered, they make their way to waterways where they can harm the environment, including animals and humans.

Recycle Smart and do your part to avoid plastic utensils and straws. Choose not to use them or choose reusable options instead.

 

 

Recycle Smart. Keep paper plates and cups out of your recycling cart.

15 June 2021

graphic showing crossed out image of picnic basket with disposable cutlery

Paper cups and plates cannot be recycled because they are often lined with plastic or contaminated with food. Unlined paper plates, napkins, and paper towels can be composted by collecting them separately and taking them to a local organics recycling drop-off site.

Lined paper items must state they are “compostable” and/or 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 and drop them off with your food scraps at one of many organics recycling collection sites around the City. Find everything you need to know at RamseyRecycles.com/FoodScraps.

 

Recycle Smart. Keep plastic bags and film out of your recycling cart.

1 June 2021

graphic showing crossed out image of plastic bags and plastic film

Plastic bags and plastic wrap get tangled in the equipment at recycling sorting facilities and workers have to spend hours each day removing them. These stretchy plastics can be thrown in the garbage, but if brought back to a retail drop-off location, they can be recycled!

Recycle Smart and do your part to reduce and recycle plastic bags and plastic wrap! Bring reusable bags with you when shopping and recycle stretchy plastic at drop-off locations, such as Target and Cub. Find drop-off locations at PlasticFilmRecycling.org.

 

 

Recycle Smart. Keep hoses and other tanglers out of your recycling cart.

15 May 2021

graphic showing crossed out image of a hose, electrical cord, and rope

Keep "tanglers" like cords, hoses, and string lights out of your recycling cart. These items, along with plastic bags, get wrapped around equipment at recycling facilities and workers spend hours every day removing these items from the machinery. This is both dangerous and time-consuming.

Electrical cords and string lights can be recycled by bringing them to a local recycling center. Plastic bags can also be recycled when taken to a participating businesses, such as Cub or Target. Hoses and strings should be placed in your garbage. Search the Ramsey County Disposal Guide if you have other potential tanglers that you’re not sure what to do with.

Recycle Smart. Keep random metal items out of your recycling cart.

1 May 2021

graphic showing crossed out image of random metal items

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.

These items can also be taken to a local scrap-metal recycling business. Call ahead for public drop-off information.

Recycle Smart. Recycle more this Earth Day!

15 April 2021

Earth Day is a great time to celebrate the beauty of nature around us and make changes to be more environmentally friendly. Recycling is a great way to contribute to a healthy and thriving environment. This Earth Day, take an action that you can maintain throughout the year by choosing to recycle more. Check out these ideas to get you started!

graphic showing 2 people holding recyclable items
  • Recycle an item that you’ve previously thrown away. Some less-commonly known recyclables items include: toilet paper rolls, empty aerosol cans, delivery pizza boxes, and shampoo/detergent bottles.
  • Place a recycling container in new room. It’s easy to recycle when you make it easy on yourself. Add a bin to your laundry room, bathroom, or bedroom to capture those recyclable items that often land in the trash when a recycling container isn’t around.
  • Collect items for recycling that require drop-off. A few easy items to start with are:

Food scraps (organics): These can be collected and taken to one of many drop-off locations around the city. Small, countertop containers and compostable bags are also available for free!

Recycle Smart. Keep shredded paper out of your recycling cart.

1 April 2021

graphic showing crossed out image of shredded paper

 

Recycle Smart, keep shredded paper out of your @CityofSaintPaul recycling cart! Shredded paper can either be bagged and placed in your garbage cart or dropped off for recycling at one of many local shredding businesses: Ramsey County Paper Shredding Business List.

 

 

 

 

Recycle Smart: Keep bags of recycling out of your cart.

15 March 2021

recycle smart ad showing that recycling cannot be placed in plastic bags

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.

 

 

 

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

1 March 2021

recycle smart ad showing 3 take-out containers that cannot go in the recycling: styrofoam, black plastic, and waxed cardboard

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.

Recycle Smart: Keep electronics and batteries out of your recycling cart.

15 February 2021

recycle smart ad showing that electronics cannot be placed in the recycling

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. Some of these items can be brought to a Citywide Drop-off event, find alternative disposal options below.

 

 

 

Recycle Smart and do your part to properly recycle electronics and batteries. Find details about Garbage Service bulky item collections, Citywide Drop-off Events, and HHW disposal options at stpaul.gov/recycle.

Last Edited: December 27, 2021