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FAQs: What goes in the recycling bin?

The Johnson County Department of Health and Environment is continually fielding questions about recycling. Here are answers to some of the most common questions asked! 

Q: What can I recycle in my curbside bin?

A: Recycle all empty plastic bottles and containers, cans, paper and cardboard.

Q: Why can’t plastic bags go in the curbside recycling bin?

A: Thin, flimsy plastics such as plastic grocery bags, bread bags and films are not compatible with the machines that sort recyclables at the processing facility. Many grocery stores will collect plastic bags at their entrance for recycling.

Q: Should I leave the lids on or off?

A: Leave the lids on. This is a new trend in the recycling industry. It used to be lids off, now they can be left on. Be sure to empty all the liquids before recycling.

Q: What about Styrofoam; it displays the #6 with the recycling symbol?

A: Styrofoam should be thrown in the trash. While it is a foam made from plastic, it is mostly air and has no recyclable market value.

Q: Where can I recycle my glass?

A: Glass is not accepted in your regular curbside program, however, it can be dropped off at a purple Ripple Glass bin or you can contract with one of several companies that pick up curbside.

Q: What about my pizza box?

A: Pizza boxes are recyclable, food is not. Remove all the food and greasy spots and recycle the rest. If the bottom of the box is covered in grease and cheese you can tear off the top of the box and recycle it.

Q: Can box cartons such as juice, soy and dairy be recycled?

A: YES! Cartons are now accepted curbside for recycling. No juice pouches at this time. Make sure cartons are empty before recycling.

Q: How clean does a container need to be before recycling it?

A: Containers should be rinsed and empty. They do not need to be thoroughly washed. Sticky items such as peanut butter jars just need to be wiped out to be “clean enough”.

Q: Can egg cartons be recycled?

A: There are three different types of egg cartons: Plastic can be recycled. Styrofoam should go in the trash. Paperboard is also unrecyclable but is great in a compost pile. Many farmers at your local farmers markets will accept your egg cartons for reuse.

Q: How are the comingled recyclables collected curbside separated out for recycling?

A: A combination of machines and employees sort all of the materials collected for recycling into metal, plastic, paper and cardboard. Johnson County has a great five minute video that follows the trail of your recyclables from the curb to the processing facility. Watch it at www.jocogov.org.