The Dos and Don'ts of Recycling in Milwaukee

Milwaukee's skyline in the fog.
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It's easy to forget what items go in which bin when you're cleaning up, and which plastics are "good" or "bad." This list is a handy breakdown of the rules of recycling in Milwaukee, and reference on what to do with hazardous or unusual materials.

If in doubt, call the city any time at 414-286-3500, or at 414-286-CITY during business hours. Reach a telecommunication device for the deaf at 414-286-2025.

Want to recycle electronics? See E-Cycling in Milwaukee.

Recycling at Home

Recyclable Items

  • Aluminum containers, foil, and pans
  • Steel cans and empty aerosol cans
  • Metal pots and pans
  • Plastic bottles and buckets marked with a #1, #4 and #5
  • Any kind of glass jars or bottles
  • Phone books, magazines, newspapers, catalogs, corrugated cardboard, paper egg cartons, paperboard, mixed paper and mail

Non-Recyclable Items

  • Window glass, ceramics or china
  • Styrofoam
  • Plastic bags
  • Plastic bottles marked with #3, #6 and #7 or not marked
  • Oil or antifreeze bottles
  • Needles
  • Paper lined with wax, foil or plastic
  • Paper contaminated with food or grease
  • Tissues
  • Waxed paper, including frozen food boxes
  • Steel paint cans
  • Incandescent light bulbs

Milwaukee Self-Help Recycle Centers

For larger recyclable items that can't go in your bin, visit one of these self-help recycling centers. Be sure to bring proof that you're a Milwaukee resident or property owner. 

  • North Side: 6660 N. Industrial Rd., Milwaukee
  • South Side: 3879 W. Lincoln Ave., Milwaukee

What to recycle at a self-help center:

  • Household waste: used motor oil and oil filters; cooking oil; used antifreeze; car batteries; electronics; appliances; scrap metal; tires (up to five passenger tires; corrugated cardboard; concrete; asphalt roofing shingles (see shingle recycling guidelines), used athletic shoes and regular recyclables
  • Yard waste: brush; grass clippings; leaves and garden debris
  • Large items: garbage; old furniture; construction or remodeling debris (see construction debris guidelines)

Hazardous Material Disposal Centers

Three centers allow for drop-off of hazardous waste. Call 414-272-5100 or visit the MMSD website for hours and lists of acceptable materials.

  • South Side: 3879 W. Lincoln Ave., Milwaukee
  • Menomonee Falls: W124 N9451 Boundary Rd. (124th St)
  • Franklin: 10518 S. 124th St.