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Recycling Questions

Why are so many communities switching to dual stream recycling programs?

Unfortunately, a recycling crisis is sweeping the U.S. and frustratingly, it’s impacting the greater St. Louis marketplace. World market conditions and current contamination levels have forced many processors into an unsustainable model to continue operating as before. Resource Management’s Earth City Materials Recovery Facility notified Meridian Waste that they will no longer accept single stream recyclables collected curbside from our residential customers. Read the letter here. Our effort to switch our communities to customized Dual Stream Recycling programs is aimed at cleaning the recycling stream and ensuring collected recycling loads are recycled and not diverted to the landfill due to contamination, which often happens with Single Stream Recycling.

What can go in my RIGIDS cart at my curb?
  • Plastic: Specifically ONLY clear & non-black rigid plastics #1, 2, 3, 5, 7 are accepted at this time. These numbers can be found on the bottom of your container. Plastic bags are not accepted in the curbside recycling program. Black plastic is not recyclable due to quality concerns.
  • Aluminum
  • Tin
  • Steel
What is a RIGID plastic?

RIGID plastic is an industry term that defines a category of recyclable plastic. It includes hard or rigid plastic items, as opposed to film plastic (plastic bags, pallet shrink wrap, plastic hoses and other flexible plastic items). Film plastic is not currently accepted in our curbside recycling program. 

What do the plastic numbers mean and which items are accepted?

#1 - PET / PETE : Polyethylene Terephthalate - Beverage bottles and some food containers
#2 - HDPE / PE-HD : High Density Polyethylene - Milk jugs, shampoo bottles, detergent and oil jugs
#3 - V/PVC : Polyvinyl Chloride - Plastic squeeze bottles, piping
#5 - PP : Polypropylene - Yogurt and margarine containers
#7 - Other / O : Other Resins - Lids and sport bottles 


#4 - LDPE / PE-LD : Low Density Polyethylene - Plastic food and grocery bags, plastic wraps
#6 - PS : Polystyrene - CD cases and Styrofoam

What can go in my FIBER cart at my curb or in our fiber drop location?
  • Mixed Paper: newspaper, computer paper, magazines and junk mail
  • Cardboard: cereal boxes, empty paper towel rolls, and corrugated cardboard
Do I need to remove labels from my tin cans or plastic bottles before recycling?

No. It is not required to remove labels from tin cans or plastic bottles before recycling.

Where can I recycle FIBER materials like cardboard and mixed paper?

If your city is currently utilizing a Dual Stream Curbside Recycling Program which requires two separate carts - one FIBER and one RIGIDS container, you can put your cardboard and mixed paper in your FIBER cart for curbside pickup. You can also choose to take your mixed paper and cardboard to a local recycling facility or to a city provided drop-off location if your city has chosen to provide one.

Where can I recycle my glass?

Glass is not currently included in our Dual Stream Curbside Recycling Program. You can either take your glass to a local recycling facility or to a city provided drop-off location if your city has chosen to provide one. Or if no other option is available, then throw it in with your regular trash as glass is also beneficially reused to help break down bags in the waste compaction process, which ultimately saves landfill space.

Why do recyclables need to be clean and dry?

This is one of the most common recycling mistakes. All recyclables need to be both clean and dry ensuring liquid and food residue is removed as the residue contaminates the material preventing recycling.

Do I need to wash my recyclables with soap?

No. You do not need to use soap to clean your recyclables. Simply rinsing them, ensuring all residue is removed, and drying them is sufficient.

What happens if my cardboard or paper gets wet while sitting out at the curb?

When cardboard and paper get wet, their quality deteriorates and often they will not be accepted as recyclables. Please ensure your material can stay clean and dry while out at the curb.

What items are common contaminants in the recycling stream?
  • Glass containers and broken glass
  • Food and food residue
  • Plastic bags
  • FIBER (paper and cardboard) mixed in with RIGIDS materials
  • RIGIDS (plastic, aluminum tin and steel) mixed in with FIBER materials
How do I recycle plastic bags?

Plastic bags are not currently accepted in our curbside recycling program, because they can get caught in recycling facility machinery causing processing to stall and potentially endangering workers and damaging equipment. To recycle your plastic bags, please collect them and deposit them at your local grocery store in the appropriately marked collection bins.

Can my recycling go in a plastic bag?

No. Plastic bags are not currently accepted in our curbside program.  Plastic bags can often get stuck in the machinery at the Materials Recovery Facility and can endanger workers while also halting processing. To recycle your plastic bags, please collect them and deposit them at your local grocery store in the appropriately marked collection bins.

Can I recycle plastic bottles?

Yes. As long as the bottle is not black and is a #1, 2, 3, 5, 7 plastic, it can be recycled at the curb. Please ensure the item is clean and dry, and you can put the cap back on before recycling.

Can I recycle holiday wrapping paper?

No. Often holiday paper is made from recycled material meaning it already has very short fibers and often contains things like glitter or other decorative features, which make it not recyclable. Please throw wrapping paper in the trash after your celebrations.

Can I recycle straws?

No. Straws tend to be small, thin and bend easily. This can cause problems at the Materials Recovery Facility as they can fall into the cracks and crevices of recycling equipment. Please throw straws in the trash.

What should I do with unnumbered plastics?

When in doubt, throw it out! When you come across un-numbered plastics, please throw those in the trash.

Can I recycle books (paper and hardback)?

Yes. Paperback books are completely recyclable. If your books are in good shape, you may also choose to donate your books to a local resale shop.

Should I keep the cap on my plastic bottles when recycling them?

Yes. You can put the cap back on the bottle after ensuring the bottle is clean and dry.

Can I recycle my cardboard pizza delivery box?

No. The grease and food residue is considered a contaminant so the material is no longer considered clean. If the top of the pizza box has no grease on it, you can tear off the lid and recycle that with your FIBER items, if you would like.

Can I recycle padded paper envelopes?

No. These items contain both paper and plastic and would contaminate any stream they would be thrown into.

Can I recycle paper envelopes with plastic windows?

Yes. These can be placed in your FIBER container.  

Are small juice boxes recyclable?

No. Small single serving juice boxes, often used for children’s drinks, are made of many layers of fiber material with wax and often include foil in the layers.

Can I recycle aluminum foil or aluminum lids to takeout containers?

No. Typically aluminum foil is in small pieces and is contaminated with food. These items should be thrown in your trash.

Can I recycle aerosol cans?

Yes. Please ensure they are empty before recycling in your RIGIDS container.

Do the tips need to be removed from the aerosol cans?

No. You can toss the aerosol can in the RIGIDS container after you’ve ensured it is empty.

Can I recycle the cardboard rolls inside of toilet paper / paper towel rolls?

Yes. Cardboard rolls can be recycled with your FIBER material.

Can I recycle used paper towels and napkins?

No. These items are often soiled and not recyclable.

Is plastic wrap recyclable in our curbside program?

No. Unnumbered plastics are not accepted in our curbside program.

Are egg cartons recyclable?

Clean plastic egg cartons are recyclable.
Styrofoam egg cartons are not recyclable. 

Can I recycle pots and pans in the curbside program?

No. Pots and pans can be recycled through a scrap metal company but not through the curbside recycling program.

Is Styrofoam recyclable in our curbside program?

No. Styrofoam is a #6 plastic and is not accepted in the curbside recycling program.

Can I recycle batteries in the curbside program?

No. Batteries are not accepted in the curbside program. It is best to drop off used batteries at a local household hazardous waste facility in your city or county. is one option.

Can I recycle wax paper / freezer paper?

No. Wax paper / freezer paper should go into your trash.

Can sharps be recycled curbside?

No. Sharps need to be safely contained in a puncture-resistant container, sealed and thrown in the trash.

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