Below are some frequently asked questions about recycling in general and here in Palm Springs. Please go to the bottom of the page to ask a new question about a material that you want to recycle or about our recycling program.
Are the recyclables I put in my blue bin just being sent to the landfill?
No. The recyclables that are collected from residential and commercial properties are sent to a transfer station and combined with recyclables from other desert cities. These materials are then taken to a material recovery facility for sorting and processing. Acceptable, uncontaminated items are sorted, bailed and sent off for further processing at foreign or domestic facilities depending on the type of material. Some residual materials such as small items that may fall through the sorting system; items that are not recyclable; and items that are too contaminated to process are sent to a landfill. Occasionally, a shipment of recyclables may be too contaminated by food waste or non-recyclable material. In these cases, the shipment will be rejected by the material recovery facility and sent to a landfill. This is why it is so important that everyone does what they can to recycle right.
Is mixed paper still being recycled?
Yes. Mixed paper products are still collected and processed. Unfortunately, the primary markets for these materials are currently in Asia. However, the strong demand for paper-based packaging materials is driving an expansion in the domestic markets, and we expect new processing facilities to open in the future.
Shouldn’t I just put everything in the recycling bin and hope it gets recycled?
No. This is called “wishcycling” or “aspirational recycling.” Given our current restrictions on the types of acceptable materials, it is very important to only put materials into your blue bin that you know are recyclable. Please check the PSDS website for more information about what is acceptable. and remember - When in doubt, throw it out!
I heard China isn’t taking our recycling any more, so where is it going?
China has limited the materials they will accept for recycling. In some cases, material recovery facilities are able to meet their strict new requirements and will continue to ship materials there. In other cases, material recovery facilities will find outlets domestically and abroad. The nation's recycling infrastructure continues to evolve, and we hope that more domestic recycling capacity will expand in the coming years.
Are the beverage cups I get at the coffee shop recyclable?
Not really. Polystyrene cups do not have any recycling value and should be avoided or put in the trash. Paper coffee and beverage cups quite often have plastic coatings that make them unrecyclable. Plastic cups are often food contaminated or imprinted using ink that makes them unrecyclable. The City is working with Palm Springs Disposal and our material processor, Burrtec, to investigate whether un-labeled, clean cups made of PET or HDPE (marked with a 1 or 2) are recyclable.
When will we get residential composting service?
Palm Springs Disposal is working with the City of Palm Springs to develop a residential composting program consistent with the new State organics management requirements. New programs should be in place in 2022.
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