Recycling can vary immensely by region, so always follow the directions for recycling produced by your hauler. In Clark County, Waste Connections is in charge of hauling and processing curbside recycling. They can answer your recycling questions at 360-892-5370 or you can visit Recycling A–Z.
Workers cut out material from sorting equipment.
Hoses, wire & tangly stuff
Is it stringy? Could you tie it into a knot? Can it stretch? Could you wrap it around something? Could it get tangled and you’d have to unkink or untie it? Is it thin like a wire? If you said yes to any of those questions, it’s not a good idea to put the item into your curbside recycling.
Tangly items jam equipment that sort recyclables and workers must then climb into the machinery and cut out all the tangled material. It isn’t the safest place to be, it’s very dirty and grimy, and they have to go in with knives and shears to cut the material out. This causes hours of delays for the equipment, which means stopping recyclables from getting sorted and baled to get recycled.
Help worker safety and the efficiency of recycling by keeping tangly items out of your cart.
Garden hoses are indeed made of plastics, and many are often made of recycled plastics — yay! — however, these items do not belong in your curbside recycling cart. They aren’t recyclable and they’ll tangle up in the machinery. Cables, cords, and wires (including coat hangers) are indeed made of metal or have desired metal in them, but they cannot be recycled at the curb. Check out the widget on Recycling A–Z to search for a list of locations that take cables and wires, such as metal and electronic recyclers.
Other tangly items to not put into your blue recycling cart include:
- Plastic bags, wrap, and film — a large portion of the tangly material in the photo above
- Pallet or other plastic strapping — see the yellow straps in the photo above?
- Packaging Tape. Always remove packing or scotch tape from cardboard or paper packaging. You can see some in the photo above, the cardboard-colored material stuck in the rollers.
- Shoe laces, scarves, drapes, and any other type of clothing or textile
- VHS and cassette tape
Food soiled paper
Yes it is paper, and yes paper is recyclable, but only if it is clean and dry. All recyclables should be clean and dry when you place them into your recycling cart. Food-soiled, wet, or otherwise dirty paper cannot be recycled. This material will end up in the landfill. What is worse though is that this dirty material could ruin clean material preventing it too from being recyclable. The contents of your cart get dumped into the recycling truck and mingle with everyone else’s materials that they had in their carts. If your recyclables are dirty, it could make everyone else’s recyclables dirty too, and then recyclables that could have been recycled into new products now won’t.
Food-soiled paper is also a public health issue. Food and other organic waste can attract pests and rodents, and can harbor bacteria. When crews in the sorting process receive your dirty recyclables they are exposed to the bacteria, pests, and rodent wastes. Additionally, it then becomes a very dirty job. Recycling should be a clean workplace; if you wouldn’t want to sort through it, you probably shouldn’t be including it in your recycling cart. Place soiled paper in the garbage.
Styrofoam, block foam, and other plastic foam, like packing peanuts, are never recyclable in your blue recycling cart. This material will break apart and fall through the sorting processing making a huge mess. Additionally, this can cause delays for the recycling process.
Currently in Clark County, you can recycle block foam at any Recycling Day Event. Just across the river there are a few more options for block foam, including Far West Recycling.
Clean packing peanuts will often be taken at mailing and shipping stores to be reused for packing packages — always call before you drive!
If the above options won’t work for you, please dispose properly in your garbage. Ideally you should place the material in a garbage or other plastic bag so that if broken the pieces won’t fly away.
Sharps, such as needles and EpiPens should never go into your blue recycling cart. This is a public health hazard for recycling truck drivers and sorting crews at the recycling facility. Additionally, these items are not recyclable and should never go into your recycling. However, needles and other sharps, if in the proper container, can be brought to any of the three transfer stations in Clark County — Call before you drive!
Light bulbs are never recyclable in your blue recycling cart. They are made of some glass, but it’s not the right glass. Light bulbs, such as fluorescents, also contain dangerous chemicals if they are broken.
Fluorescent light tubes and CFLs can be recycled at number of locations around Clark County:
Visit lightrecycle.org to find your closest location. Some locations provide an exchange program for doing the right thing; bring in a CFL for proper disposal and get a new bulb! Always call before you drive.
To-go cups, both plastic and paper are not recyclable. Plastic to-go cups are not desired and often have food waste or residue that can contaminate recyclables.
Paper to-go cups, like coffee cups, are not just made of paper. To keep the coffee from soaking the paper, coffee cups are lined with a thin layer of plastic. This thin layer of plastic, in addition to the food waste, is what prevents coffee cups from being recyclable. You may see coffee cups that advertise they are compostable or made of plant-based plastic for the liner, these still are not recyclable. Additionally, they aren’t compostable at businesses or schools that participate in the compostable waste program. If your workplace has compost service, don’t toss in the coffee cups regardless if they say compostable on them. Always follow the directions and instructions provided by your recycling and compost hauler and not the advertising on packaging and materials.
Hard plastic packaging
All plastics are not equal. It may be the right material, but the wrong shape and size. Also, just because it has a number or recycle symbol on it, doesn’t mean it is recyclable with your local hauler. Only the items indicated by your recycling hauler can be recycled. Doing recycling right is much more than just what material the item is made out of because machines that process recyclables into new products are designed to handle a particular recyclable object of a certain size and shape and material. These plastics are made of recyclable material, but they are the wrong shape, so unfortunately they’ll end up in the garbage regardless. But if placed in the recycling cart, they will cause delays and issues for the good recyclables to get to their destination or contaminate them. Keep plastics of the wrong shape and size out of the cart.
Garbage, diapers, pet waste
When in doubt, throw it out. It’s better to throw a recyclable item in the garbage than it is to put garbage in your Blue Recycling Cart. Garbage mixed with recyclables makes garbage so everything goes to the landfill. Please don't waste valuable recyclables by contaminating the whole load with garbage. Diapers are a material that are frequently misplaced in the recycling cart. They take up a lot of room in the garbage and that large blue cart can be very tempting.
Diapers, although made of plastic and paper materials, are never recyclable in your curbside recycling. They also pose a public health threat by not being properly disposed in the garbage. Please always place diapers in the garbage.
Pet waste should be bagged in plastic, the top tied shut, and the bag placed in the garbage. Don’t make your garbage hauler handle loose pet waste and please don’t recycle it. You can’t turn pet waste into anything new—it’s garbage.
Household hazardous waste
Virtually every home contains products that are potentially hazardous if misused or disposed of improperly. Common hazardous products include pesticides, paints, solvents, batteries, thinners, motor oil, antifreeze, and household cleaners. It’s important to know how to handle, store, and purchase these materials to protect the safety and well-being of your family, community and the environment. You should never pour hazardous wastes down the drain, into the stormdrain, or place it in the garbage.