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Environmental Division

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Recycling 101

Welcome to your source for what can and cannot go in your recycling bin.

Ditch the Bag

bagged recyclables go to the landfill

You think you’re recycling right, but when you bag your recyclables or put plastic bags and product wrap into your recycle bin - they could end up in the landfill. Why? Plastic bags get caught in the machinery at the recycling facility and lower the value of other recyclables.

Ensure that your recycling efforts don’t go to waste by following these three simple steps.

  1. Ditch the bag - plastic bags and wraps don’t belong in your curbside recycle bins.
  2. Free your recycling – keep your items loose in the bin, bagged recycling could end up in the landfill.   
  3. Recycle at other locations – take your clean bags and wraps to area grocery stores that accept these items.

Look below for a list of accepted items for curbside pickup. If it’s not on this list, place it in the trash or recycle the items at a participating store. 

Plastic Film Recycling Options

types of plastic film which are also listed in the paragraph text

Plastic film is soft, flexible polyethylene packaging used for many commonly used products. Plastic films, such as air pillows, grocery and retail bags, case wrap, newspaper bags, bread bags, food storage bags, and paper product packaging, are not accepted in your curbside recycle bin, however, they can be recycled at several area grocery stores.

To recycle your plastic film, first make sure that it is clean, dry, and free of food waste, receipts, and in the case of dry cleaning bags, clothes hangers. Then, take it to one of several drop-off locations around Kansas City including several grocery stores such as Hy-Vee, Walmart, and Target. Once collected these items are processed into composite lumber or small pellets, which can be made into new bags, pallets, and more.

Accepted Items

  • Retail, carryout, produce, newspaper, bread, and dry cleaning bags (clean & dry)
  • Zip-top food storage bags (clean & dry)
  • Plastic shipping envelopes (remove labels), air pillows (deflate)
  • Product wrap on cases or water bottles, paper towels, napkins, toilet paper, etc.
  • Furniture and electronic wrap
  • Plastic cereal box liners (but not if it tears like paper, clean & dry)

Not-Accepted

  • Degradable/compostable bags or film packaging
  • Pre-washed salad mix bags
  • Frozen food bags
  • Candy bar wrappers
  • Chip bags
  • Six-pack rings

For a complete list of check out: Plastic Film Recycling or RecycleSpot.

2018 Recycling Waste Sort 

Johnson County Department of Health and Environment partnered with Waste Management and Bridging The Gap to conduct an in-depth sort at the recycling facility in November 2018. The goal of the sort was to look at what materials residents are putting in their recycling bins that can and cannot be recycled. The results revealed that around 26% of what residents are putting in their recycling bin is actually not recyclable curbside. 2019 Recycling Waste Sort Report.

What Can & Cannot Go in my Recycle Bin and How Can I Recycle More?

Do you have questions? Contact Us and we will do our best to answer them.

Additional Resources: RecycleSpot.org have developed a comprehensive printable list of what can and can't go in your curbside recycle bin.

Item Accepted in your curbside recycle bin More Info

Plastic Bottles & Containersplastic bottles and containers

Yes

Recycle empty plastics such as bottles, jars, jugs, and tubs. Keep your plastic bottle caps on, they can be recycled too. Do NOT put needles or syringes in your recycling.

Paper, Flattened Cardboard
& Paperboard
paper and cardboard

Yes

Recycle paper, newspapers, junk mail, and magazines. Flatten and recycle all cardboard and paperboard. Paper should be dry and free of food waste. No receipts.

Food & Beverage Cansfood and beverage cans

Yes

Recycle all empty and clean tin, aluminum, and steel cans.

Cartons

cartons

Yes

Empty cartons are now accepted in your curbside recycle bin. Juice pouches are not accepted at this time. To find out more information on carton recycling in your area check out the Carton Council.

Aluminum Foilaluminum foil

Yes, as long as it is clean

Aluminum foil that is clean and free of food waste can be recycled in your curbside recycle bin or at certain community recycling centers. Ball up your aluminum foil so it doesn't get confused for paper in the recycling process.

Pizza boxes
(without food and grease)
pizza box

Yes, if there is no grease or food

Clean pizza boxes without food or grease are accepted in your curbside recycle bin. If your pizza box has food waste on it tear off the top for recycling and throw the rest in the trash.

Egg cartonsegg carton

Yes, only plastic & paper egg cartons

Plastic and paper egg cartons that are clean can be recycled in your curbside recycling bin. Styrofoam egg cartons are not recyclable and need to be disposed of in the trash.

Glass

glass bottles

No, but they can be recycled

Glass bottles and jars are not accepted in your curbside recycle bin with the exception of Honey Creek Disposal customers only. However, there are many options for recycling your glass. Ripple Glass operates the purple community recycle bins seen throughout Kansas City. There are also several companies that provide curbside glass pickup, including: Atlas Glass, KC Curbside Glass, and Glass Bandit.

Plastic bags

plastic bags

No, but they can be recycled

Plastic bags, food storage bags, newspaper and dry cleaning bags, and product wraps are not accepted in your curbside recycling bin. However, they are recyclable and can be returned to several area grocery stores. For more info on recycling options in your area go to Plastic Film Recycling.org

Packing materials, bubble wrap,
and packing peanutsbubble wrap and packing peanuts

No, but they can be recycled

Packing materials, bubble wrap, and packing peanuts are not accepted in your curbside recycling bin but they are recyclable. Several area stores will accept these items if they are usable. For those options check out Recycle Spot.

Shredded papershredded paper

No, but it can be recycled

Shredded paper is not accepted in your curbside recycling bin, because it can blow around and is not easily processed in a recycling facility. However, you can recycle shredded paper with a number of area businesses who provided shredded paper disposal. For these options check out Recycle Spot.

Mattresses

mattress

No, but they can be recycled

If the mattress is still usable donate it to Sleepyhead Beds, they provide usable mattresses to kids and families who are in need. If your mattress is no longer usable, recycle it with Avenue of Life, who use recycling to create jobs for individuals with barriers to employment.

Electronics
outdated electronics

No, but they can be recycled

Electronics should not be put in the trash; there are several options available for recycling your old electronics. RecycleSpot is a great resource for finding the closest location to recycle near you.

Textiles and clothespile of clothing

No, but they can be recycled

While not accepted in your curbside recycle bin, textiles and clothes can still be recycled. If these items can't be donated at any number of locations including Goodwill. For locations where you can recycle unusable textiles near you, check out Recycle Spot.

Plastic utensils, plates,
and straws

plasatic knife fork and spoon

 

No

Plastic utensils, plates, and straws are not accepted in your curbside recycling bin. These items are made of a low-grade plastic and belong in the trash after use. Compostable utensils and cups can be composted through composting operations such as Missouri Organic Recycling but they do not decompose in backyard compost bins.

Food wrappersfood wrappers

No

Food wrappers such as chip bags, candy wrappers, ketchup packets, etc. are not recyclable in your curbside recycling bin and belong in the trash. These items are often made of a combination of materials which make it difficult to separate for recycling.

Single serve coffee cups
and plastic lids

paper coffee cup

No

Paper coffee cups often have a plastic or waxed coating that does not break down during the recycling process at paper mills. The plastic lids used on these type of coffee cups are also not recyclable in your curbside bin, even though they have a recycling symbol on them.

K-Cups
K-cups

No

K-cups and other similar single serve cups are not recyclable due to the combination of materials they are made from. These items should be disposed of in the trash.

Paper napkins, towels
and tissues
paper towels

No

Paper towels, napkins, and tissues are not accepted in your curbside recycle bin and belong in the trash. Consider using cloth napkins and towels for a waste-free alternative.

Paper plates and cups
paper plates

No

Paper plates and cups are coated in a plastic or wax material that will not break down during the recycling process, and are not accepted in your curbside recycling bin. Consider using reusable plates and cups as a waste-free option.