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Recycle right - image of family filling recycling curbside cart

Recycle right

King County is home to some of the best recyclers in the nation. Whether at the curb or at transfer stations and drop boxes, King County residents continue to benefit both the environment and the economy by recycling their plastic, paper, cardboard, glass, and metal cans. No matter what, we should all keep recycling and always recycle right.

No plastic bags or wrap in the recycling bin - image showing a pile of plastic shopping bags

No plastic bags or wrap in the recycling bin

Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, garbage and recycling collection companies in King County will no longer accept plastic bags or plastic wrap in curbside recycling bins. Plastic bags and wrap are often wet or have food waste on them when placed in the comingled recycling bins and contaminate other materials in the bins. At recycling facilities, these plastics can jam sorting and processing equipment, leading to frequent shutdowns so workers can remove the tangled materials.

Recycle right by bringing your plastic bags and wrap to a takeback location so it can be manufactured into new products. Locations can be found by visiting external link

While throwing plastic bags and wrap in the garbage is the least-desirable action, it's better to toss them out rather than contaminating other recyclables in the recycling bin.

Empty, clean, and dry - image showing a glass jar at all three stages

Empty, clean, and dry

One of the easiest ways to recycle right is to make sure what you're putting in the recycling bin is empty, clean, and dry. Food and liquids in recyclables can allow mold to grow, which make the materials unacceptable for recycling. Containers that previously contained food or liquid should be rinsed to remove food and liquid residue. Shake out excess liquid and air dry.

When putting recycling in your curbside bin, make sure you don't overfill the bin and keep the lid shut tight. Overflowing bins or open lids make it more likely for rain or other water to get in and ruin the recycling.

What to recycle - image of mixed materials for recycling

What to recycle

As long as they are empty, clean, and dry, you should always recycle:

  • Paper
  • Cardboard
  • Plastic bottles, jugs, and tubs
  • Glass bottles and jars
  • Metal cans.
When in doubt, find out - image of recycling carts. Contact your local hauler to learn which materials are accepted for recycling.

When in doubt, find out

Recycle only materials that are accepted by your city's recycling company. When in doubt, find out. Check your local recycling guidelines to ensure you're putting the right materials in your recycle cart. You can learn more about recycling in your area by checking with your city, or find your recycling company by using the following drop-down:

Still in doubt, throw it out - image of miscellaneous materials. Putting something in the recycling that doesn’t belong there could send the entire load to the landfill.

Still in doubt, throw it out

You know that when you’re in doubt about where something goes, you find out by checking your local guide. If you are still in doubt, throw it out. Putting something in the recycling that doesn’t belong there could send the entire load to the landfill. That’s why if you’re ever unsure, uncertain, or in doubt about where something goes, the best option is to throw it out.

Why recycle? Image of milk jugs, which are recycled into new products

Why recycle?

Recycling is one of the most important things we can do benefit both the environment and the economy. Recycling allows existing items to be made into new products. Making products from recycled content decreases the need to extract new materials, such as petroleum, wood, minerals, and water from the environment. Keep recyclables out of the garbage to ensure they are made into new products instead of wasting away in a landfill.

Waste prevention - image of junk mail and catalogs.

Waste prevention

Waste prevention is another way to conserve resources, your time, and your money, and there are many easy ways to prevent waste.

Opting out of paper mailings and paper bills is a good first step to decreasing the amount of waste paper you generate. There are several services available locally that allow you to opt out of junk mail external link , phone books, credit card offers external link and catalogs external link . Choose e-billing where available.

Choosing reusable items over single-use/disposable ones is another great way to prevent waste. Bringing your own bag for groceries to the store, bringing your own utensils for meals on the go, using a refillable water bottle or bringing your own cup are all ways to decrease the amount of waste you generate. These small changes add up over time.

Contact Us

 Call: 206-477-4466

TTY Relay: 711

King County Solid Waste Division mission: Waste Prevention, Resource Recovery, Waste Disposal