What NOT to Recycle in San José

Read in Spanish (Español) and Vietnamese (Tiếng Việt)

What not to recycle

In a world with information at our fingertips, you’re just a quick internet search away from finding out what items are recyclable these days. But it can be harder to find details on what not to recycle. In San José, recycling is easy. You can always recycle empty glass, cans, plastic containers, and clean and dry paper and cardboard. When deciding what goes where, keeping the wrong items out of your recycle bin or cart is as important as putting the right items in.

Did you know that items soiled with food or liquid can ruin otherwise good recyclables and make an entire load of materials unrecyclable? Pizza boxes are a great example. Once you’ve finished your pizza, the box’s bottom is usually soiled with grease or food, making it unrecyclable because the grease can’t be separated from the paper fibers during the recycling process. If that box is put in with recyclables, the recycling machinery might process, sort, and bale the greasy pizza box with the clean carboard and make the final bale of cardboard less valuable. Dirty bales can even be unsellable and end up as garbage.

Instead of throwing away the whole box, you can tear off the clean top for recycling, and place the greasy bottom in the garbage. Pizza boxes and other soiled paper are sorted out of the garbage and sent to a local composting facility to be turned into a product used for city landscape and median projects.

Other important items that should never go in the recycling are dirty takeout containers; masks, gloves, and other personal protective equipment (PPE); items that tangle like hoses, cords, rope, and wires; and batteries, fire extinguishers, and propane/helium tanks. Keeping these items out of your recycling protects essential workers and helps San José recycle clean.

To help you remember what to keep out of the recycling, we’ve created this easy-to-use What Not to Recycle Reference Sheet with additional recycle right tips. The reference sheets are also available in Spanish and Vietnamese.

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