Food waste is a problem for several reasons: 1) it results in mold that can pose a health hazard to our employees in the plant, 2) it attracts rodents, another health hazard, and 3) it can ruin materials such as recyclable paper by encouraging it to decompose.

Instead: Compost your food scraps and give your recyclables a quick rinse before they go in your bin!

Flattened cans and containers are difficult for the sorting lines to separate from paper. Liquids left in bottles or containers attract rodents and stinging insects to the recycling plant—not to mention they ruin paper.

Instead: Don’t flatten containers (except for cardboard boxes), and be sure to empty containers of liquids completely before recycling!

This includes motor oil and solvents, syringes/needles/sharps, paint, and fluorescent lightbulbs.

Instead: Take these and other hazardous waste items to the Hazardous Materials Management Facility

Instead: Contact your local sheriff’s office.

This includes scrap metal (which damages sorting equipment), plastic bags (which get caught in our sorting machinery, requiring a time-consuming, dangerous, and costly shutdown to remove the blockage and/or repair equipment), ceramics and drinking glasses (which create flaws in new glass bottles when they end up in single stream), white block foam, and bubble wrap.

Instead: Bring them to the Eco-Cycle CHaRM to be recycled! SeeWhat We Acceptto learn more.

This includes nonrecyclable plastics (unfortunately, no stable markets exist for these items), food-grade foam products such as to-go cups and clamshells, and plastic-coated paper products such as paper to-go soda or coffee cups, frozen food boxes, and ice cream containers (the plastic coating renders them nonrecyclable).

Instead: Put these items in the trash. See our Landfill guidelines for more items that are not recyclable in Boulder County.