Recycling is in crisis, and it needs your help! Unfortunately about 20-30% of materials in your recycling bin end up going to landfill because they are contaminated or are not actually recyclable. Below are some tips to improve your recycling habits and help ensure that the materials you put in your recycling cart get recycled:
- Remove caps, corks, and lids. Remove labels when you can.
- Empty contents from containers and clean them out – scrape, wipe, or lightly rinse when necessary. A spatula is handy for scraping out sticky foods such as tomato paste and peanut butter. Containers do not have to be completely clean.
- Cardboard must be clean and dry with all loose tape removed. Greasy pizza boxes and wax covered cardboard are not recyclable and must be placed in the trash cart.
- If you use a plastic bag liner in your kitchen recycling, do not include it in your curbside recycling cart. Consider rinsing and reusing it. Plastic bags are not allowed in your curbside recycling cart.
- Styrofoam packing peanuts cannot be recycled. This material is very small and cannot be captured in the automated recovery process. This should be bagged (preferably into paper sacks) and put into the trash.
- Food soiled takeout containers or “clamshells” would be considered contaminated and are not acceptable items for recycling. Clean plastic containers can be recycled as long as they are marked with a recycling code.
- Flatten your clean foil. Flat foil is easier to separate than foil in balls.
- The Coachella Valley can be very windy at times, so it is important to bag your loose recyclable material such as shredded or loose paper. This material should be contained in paper sacks or small paperboard boxes such as cracker or cereal boxes.
When in doubt, throw it out! If you can’t find a clear recycling symbol on a plastic container, or if you are unsure about whether something is recyclable, throw it in the trash to prevent contaminating the recycling stream.
Items to Place in Your Recycling Container
The City of Palm Springs has a single stream recycling system. This means that all recyclables go into one container for commercial businesses, multi-family housing units, and single-family homes. These materials are transported by Palm Springs Disposal Services (PSDS) to a transfer facility where they are combined with materials from other Coachella Valley cities before they are separated at a materials recovery facility.
Please check the PSDS website for a complete list of recyclable materials.
Items to Keep Out of Your Recycling Container
You can help reduce contamination in our recycling streams by keeping things out that don’t belong there. The following items are particularly problematic because people think they are recyclable:
- Plastic bags. (Take them to your local grocery store or retail store that accepts plastic bags that get recycled through different systems.)
- Paper towels and facial tissues.
- Paper coffee cups and lids.
Please check the PSDS website for a complete list of materials to keep out of your recycling containers.
Items that Require Special Handling
There are several items that should not be placed in your recycling containers or in trash containers because they are considered special or hazardous wastes. Some of these include the following:
- Small household batteries – please see the link on the left for our Battery Recycling Program.
- Used oil – please take this to the Household Hazardous Waste Drop-off Facility at 1100 Vella Road or to a special collection event.
- Yard trimmings – place these in a green waste bin. See the link at the left for green waste information.
- Needles and Syringes – place these in rigid containers and take them to the Household Hazardous Waste Drop-off Facility at 1100 Vella Road.
- Light bulbs – Fluorescent tubes and Compact Fluorescent bulbs (CFLs), LED lights are considered hazardous and should be taken to the household hazardous waste drop-off. Incandescent and halogen lights can go into your household trash.