Skip to main content
King County logo

The recycling and waste disposal world seems to be full of yeses and nos. This page is a brief overview of what goes in which residential collection container, with links to additional information if needed.

residential quick guide to to recycling -- recycle section

Recycling tips

  • Put recyclables in the bin loose
  • Scrape out food residue
  • Flatten boxes; large pieces next to bin; do not tie with twine
  • Lids and caps go in the garbage
  • Recycle plastic by shape: bottles, tubs, jugs and cups can be recycled
  • Labels are okay
  • Ignore the chasing arrow symbols and numbers on plastic containers
  • Empty and rinse containers


  • Shampoo, conditioner bottles
  • Household cleaner bottles
  • Detergent,fabric softener bottles
  • Yogurt, dairy and margarine tubs
  • NEW! Plastic plant pots (no soil)
  • Plastic cups

Glass jars and bottles, any color

  • No broken glass

Aluminum and tin cans

  • Soda cans
  • Metal food cans
  • NEW! Clean aluminum foil and foil trays


  • Cardboard without a waxy or plastic coating
  • Limit 3 ft. x 3 ft.

Paper and newspaper

  • Newspaper, inserts
  • Mail, envelopes (windowed too)
  • Cereal and dry food boxes (no liners)
  • Frozen food boxes
  • Paperback books
  • Magazines, catalogs and phone books
  • Non-foil wrapping paper
  • Juice boxes, milk, soy milk and broth containers
  • Milk, ice cream cartons
  • Paper cups, coffee cups


  • Limit 2 ft. x 2 ft.
  • Fewer than 35 pounds

More about recycling

Global Recycling Day word search puzzle
This recycling-themed word searchDownload PDF 200 K is an entertaining way to get kids to start thinking about recycling.
Compost More. Waste Less. – Take the Pledge!
Take the pledge and get free tools to help you recycle and compost more.
Food: Too Good To Waste
Learn how to reduce food waste at home.

residential quick guide to to recycling -- yard waste and food scraps section

No plastic, glass, metal, liquid waste, cooking oil, fruit stickers, pet waste or litter. Layer food scraps with yard waste or newspaper.

Yard waste

  • Grass clippings & leaves
  • Houseplants (no pots)
  • Tree branches (nothing over 4 ft. long or 4 in. diameter)
  • Weeds
  • Twigs, branches and roots from pruning

Food scraps

  • Fruit, vegetable scraps and leftovers
  • Bread, pasta and grains
  • Eggshells and nutshells
  • Coffee filters and grounds
  • Teabags and tea leaves
  • Meat, fish, poultry, bones
  • Dairy products (yogurt, cheese, etc.)

Food-soiled paper

  • Greasy pizza delivery boxes (no condiment packets or plastic trays)
  • Paper towels and napkins (no cleaners or chemicals)
  • Uncoated paper plates*
  • Paper grocery bags containing food scraps*
  • Paper egg and berry cartons

*Tip: Uncoated paper does not have a shiny surface.

*Tip: Collect your food scraps in a container with an approved compostable collection bag (find a retailer, visit Empty the container into your yard waste bin frequently.

More about yard waste and food scraps

residential quick guide to to recycling -- garbage section

Check your garbage before you take it to the curb. Are there any recyclable items in there?


  • Preformed plastic packaging
  • Take-out containers
  • Plastic bags/drycleaner bags*
  • Styrofoam and packaging peanuts*
  • Caps and lids
  • Polystyrene cups and egg cartons
  • Stretch wrap
  • Motor oil and antifreeze containers
  • Plastic bakery, meat trays, plates and utensils
  • Empty prescription vials

*Tip: Plastic bags can be recycled. Check

*Tip:Reuse or recycle Styrofoam and packing peanuts.


  • Disposable diapers
  • Ribbons or foil wrapping paper
  • Hardback books*
  • Wax and plastic-coated cardboard
  • Dirty or soiled paper and food-soiled boxes
  • Used tissues and paper towels with cleaning solutions

*Tip: Donate books to a local charity or school, or take them to King County Transfer Stations that have recycling services.


  • Mirrors, window glass and broken glass
  • Ceramics and dishes
  • Incandescent and halogen light bulbs only (no compact fluorescent tubes, lights or bulbs (CFLs)

Aluminum and tin

  • Empty aerosol spray cans
  • Latex paint cans containing hardened or solidified paint (leave top off)*
  • Oil containers

*Tip: Dry out paint – mix with kitty litter or paint hardener; put in the garbage.

Metal: No medical sharps

  • Sharp or greasy metal
  • Metal caps and lids
  • Clothes hangers*
  • Small appliances

*Tip: Donate clothes hangers to a local charity or return them to your dry cleaner.


  • Garden hoses, light strings*
  • Pet waste and litter (double bagged and tied shut)

*Tip: Check for holiday light recycling locations at

More about garbage

residential quick guide to to recycling -- "What do I do with…?" section

Many types of batteries do not go in the garbage or to county transfer stations; recycle at local businesses.

  • Alkaline batteries – Household hazardous waste collection facilities and many businesses will take them.
  • “Button” batteries – Coin-shaped batteries (hearing aids, watches and other electronics) taken at household hazardous waste collection sites.
  • Motor vehicle batteries – Taken at household hazardous waste collection sites and some automotive shops.
  • Rechargeable batteries – Visit or take to household hazardous waste collection sites.
  • UPS (Uninterruptible power supply batteries) – Computer back up batteries. Taken at household hazardous waste collection sites.

No disposal of these electronic products in the garbage, at transfer stations or at household hazardous waste collection sites.

  • Computers – Main-frame, desktop and laptops
  • Computer monitors  – Cathode ray tubes and flat panel
  • TVs
  • Cell phones

Find recycling locations for these items through E-Cycle Washington: Drop-off sites accept computers, laptops, tablet computers, monitors, TVs, e-readers and portable DVD players for free. Visit external link or visit or call 206-477-4466 for locations.

Large appliances
Appliances can be repaired or donated for reuse. Older appliances may contain chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which qualified personnel must remove before disposal. Large appliances are accepted for recycling at some transfer stations and businesses for a fee. Check the What Do I Do With…? website for locations.

Large appliances include:

  • Refrigerators and freezers
  • Dishwashers, clothes washers and dryers
  • Stoves, ranges and furnaces

Ask a retailer to take it back or visit the “furniture” category on the What Do I Do With…? website to find a recycler.

Mercury-containing products
These products are prohibited from disposal in the garbage and at county transfer stations. Please recycle these products:

  • Fluorescent bulbs and tubes
    Including “green tipped” or “low mercury” tubes and compact fluorescent (CFLs) bulbs and tubes – visit LightRecycle Washington external link .
  • Mercury switches, thermometers and thermostats
    For recycling of these and other mercury-containing products, call the household hazardous line at 206-296-4692 or toll free 1-888-TOXIC ED, 1-888-869-4233 or visit

Medical sharps and other waste from home medical care
Check the What Do I Do With…? website.

More information

residential quick guide to to recycling -- resources section

Find out what your garbage and recycling hauler takes

Use the drop-down menu below to find the garbage and recycling hauler for your area.

Garbage & Recycling

Search the What do i do with…? website
More resources

Contact Us

 Call: 206-477-4466

TTY Relay: 711

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