Phoenix Recycling Dos and Don'ts

Curbside Commingled Recycling Programs

Recycling in Phoenix, AZ
••• Your recycled items at the recycling facility. Judy Hedding

There is an extensive recycling program in Phoenix. Every Phoenix resident receives a garbage can or barrel, called a recycling bin, in which to put all recyclable materials. These are collected once per week. In the City of Phoenix, the recycle bins are blue.

The City of Phoenix has a goal to divert 40 percent of trash from the landfill by 2020, and you can do your part to help achieve this goal!

These Items Go in the Recycle Bin

  • Telephone books
  • All hard plastic bottles (lids on) and containers including buckets
  • Food or beverage glass bottles and jars only, with the lids removed
  • Office paper (staples do not need to be removed)
  • Shredded paper (placed in clear plastic bags)
  • Newspapers (remove plastic bags and rubber bands)
  • Magazines/phone books
  • Catalogs
  • Comic books
  • Cardboard and cardboard boxes (no grease)
  • Cereal, cookie, tissue, and gift boxes (remove any liners)
  • Milk/juice/coffee creamer cartons (wet cardboard containers)
  • Frozen food boxes
  • Junk mail
  • Aluminum cans
  • Clean pie plates and foil
  • aerosol cans (empty)
  • Steel cans - soup, vegetable, pet food. Place lids inside can
  • Scrap metal under 25 pounds (no electronics)
  • Small metal appliances, such as toasters, irons, pots and pans (cut the electrical cords off)
  • Envelopes with plastic windows

You don't have to wash them, but recyclable materials must be relatively clean, dry, empty and uncrushed. Do not bag, box or tie recyclables.

These Items Do NOT Go in the Recycle Bin

  • No plastic bags of any kind, whether they have a recycling symbol or not
  • No pool chemical/household hazardous waste containers
  • No clothing
  • No foam peanuts or styrofoam packing materials
  • No bubble wrap
  • No windows
  • No mirrors
  • No metal hangars
  • No ceramics or dishes
  • No light bulbs
  • No books
  • No credit cards
  • No dry detergent or bar soap boxes
  • No loose shredded paper
  • No rubber bands
  • No facial or toilet tissue
  • No paper towels, plates, napkins,
  • No gift wrap
  • No mylar balloons
  • No photographs
  • No diapers
  • No pet food bags
  • No FedEx or self-sealing envelopes
  • No grass or yard waste
  • No food

Basically, if you don't see an item on the list of items that are allowed to be recycled, above, you should consider it inappropriate for recycling!

There are some items, although made of recyclable material, that can damage the sorting equipment, be harmful to workers in the sorting facility or are too small to be sorted. Do not put these items in your blue trash can. 

Plastic bags can be recycled by returning then to a grocery store. You can usually find a bin for these near the entrance. Most dry cleaners will take back metal hangars for reuse. Otherwise, use the green or black trash can for these.

Why Do We Mix Recycled Items?

In some areas of the country people are required to separate paper from plastics and cans. We don't. We employ commingled recycling. The reason is pretty simple. It is easier and cheaper, from a collection and equipment perspective, to collect all recycled materials at once, and have them sorted at the landfill.

For more information, and to find out where to drop off recyclable materials if you don't have them picked up, visit the Phoenix Recycling website.

Other cities in the Greater Phoenix area have their own recycling programs. Their recycling bins may be other colors like gray or brown, but they probably are not green or black which are traditionally used for non-recyclable trash. Please note that recyclable items may vary from city to city, depending on the facility they use to sort and recycle materials.

To get information about other cities and towns in the greater Phoenix area, find their website and click on the section for Public Works or Waste Management. That's where you are likely to learn about the recycling program.

Some cities and towns don't have curbside pickup of recyclable materials, but make drop-off points available to allow residents to participate in recycling.

According to the City of Tempe, every ton of recycled paper saves 17 trees, saves 4,100 kWh of energy, saves 7,000 gallons of water, reduces air pollution by 60 pounds, saves 3 cubic yards of landfill.

Recycling is important, and it's important to do it right.