Why It's Important to Recycle RIGHT

Did you know around 20% of what some residents and businesses put in their recycling bins is not recyclable in the blue bin? By eliminating materials that don't belong (contamination), you'll help ensure recyclables remain valuable, are actually recycled and don't create a hazard for workers or machinery at the recycling facility. Stopping contamination begins with "  Recycling Right" - knowing  how to recycle as well as  what to recycle.

Recycling Right means your items are:

  • EMPTY. No or very little food residue remaining. 
  • DRY. No liquids remaining. Liquids can ruin paper, cardboard and other materials in the recycle bin, making them unrecyclable.
  • LOOSE. Do not bag your recyclables; place them loose in the recycling bin. 


Now that you know how to recycle, let's talk about what to recycle and get Back to Basics with the four categories below:

  • Flatten boxes
  • DO NOT flatten cartons and keep caps on
  • Empty and dry

NO facial tissue, paper towels, or napkins

NO shredded paper unless it is placed in a large, clear bag and tied closed 

  • Plastic bottles and containers (empty)
  • Keep lids on
  • Containers, cups, clamshells (to-go containers)
  • Tubs (yogurt, butter) and buckets

NO plastic bags, plastic film/wrap, foam food and drink containers, foam packing peanuts, straws, utensils or compostable plastic

  • Any color
  • Keep lids on
  • Empty and dry

NO drinking glasses, Pyrex® or window glass

  • Aluminum cans and bottles (empty)
  • Clean foil
  • Metal containers (i.e. soup, coffee, tuna cans)
  • Empty aerosol cans 

NO scrap metal (return to scrap metal recycler. Visit WasteFreeSD.org for locations)

DO NOT place these items in the recycle bin:

  • Plastic bags. 
  • Items less than the size of a credit card (straws, loose caps, plastic utensils, etc.). 
  • Batteries, lightbulbs or electronics. 
  • Organic waste
  • Clothes/textiles and hangers.  
  • Tanglers (hoses, chains, cords or rope).
  • Sharps/needles.
  • Pet Waste.


Have a recycling question? Email Recycle@sdcounty.ca.gov or Call the Recycling Hotline: