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Curbside / Residential

Learn the Recycling INS and OUTS

Get behind recycling – the right way!

Great job, Philadelphia! In the past few years we have made tremendous strides in curbside recycling, and the residential curbside recycling rates are at an all-time high. During City's fiscal year 2014, a record 127,700 tons of recyclable materials were collected citywide!

Even with all of your great efforts, some unaccepted items are still ending up in recycling bins, which can damage recycling machinery and slow down the process.

What You CAN Recycle


  • All Food and Beverage Containers
  • Hard Plastic Takeout Containers
  • Detergent and Shampoo Bottles
  • Pump and Spray Bottles


  • Newspapers and Inserts
  • ​Magazines, Brochures, and Catalogs
  • Junk Mail, Envelopes, and Writing Paper
  • Scrap Paper
  • Paper Bags
  • Phone Books
  • Paperback Books
  • Greeting Cards and Gift Wrap (non-metallic)


Emptied and rinsed
  • Milk 
  • Juice
  • Wine 
  • Soups


Emptied and rinsed
  • Aluminum, Steel, and Tin Cans
  • Empty Paint Cans
  • Empty Aerosol Cans
  • Metal Trays and Baking Dishes
  • Jar Lids and Bottle Caps
  • Clean Aluminum Foil


Emptied and rinsed – caps are OK
  • All Bottles and Jars



Flattened and free of grease and food
  • Corrugated Cardboard Shipping Boxes
  • Clean Pizza Boxes
  • Paper Towel Rolls
  • Egg Cartons
  • Dry Food Boxes

What to Keep OUT of the Bin

These materials have little or no value as raw materials, damage recycling equipment, and can even injure workers. Please leave them out!

  • Plastic Bags
  • Styrofoam™ Food/Beverage Containers and Shipping/Packing Material
  • Food Waste
  • Wet or Food-Soiled Paper
  • Waxed Paper Plates, Cups, and Takeout Containers
  • Greasy Pizza Boxes
  • Tissues, Paper Towels, and Napkins
  • Light Bulbs
  • Porcelain and Non-Container Glass
  • Cassette Tapes (VHS and audio)
  • Garden Hoses
  • Needles and Syringes
  • Electronics



To improve residential recycling participation, Sanitation uses both enforcement and incentives to recycle. Generally, enforcement is limited to reminders to recycle, particularly to those that have not set out recyclables and are found to have recyclables in their trash.

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Facts and Stats

Recycling provides raw materials to manufacturers and helps create green jobs, preserve natural resources, reduce energy consumption, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The accrued greenhouse gas reductions and energy savings from Philadelphia's curbside recycling efforts are equivalent to removing more than 60,000 cars off of our streets, and generating electricity for more than 40,000 homes for one year.

Recycling also provides fiscal benefits for the City. In FY 2012 the City earned more than $6.6 million in recyclables revenues and saved more than $8 million by not having to dispose of recyclables in the trash. The nearly $15 million in combined revenues and savings help the City fund other crucial services, including police and fire protection, parks and open space, and citizen services.

Recycling also provides fiscal benefits for the City through program revenues. These savings help the City fund other crucial services, including police and fire protection, parks and open space, and civic services.

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FAQ Curbside Recycling

In 1989 the City of Philadelphia was the first municipality in Pennsylvania to implement curbside collection of residential recyclables. A record 127,700 tons of residential recyclables were collected through curbside recycling program during fiscal year 2014. This represents a more than 150% increase in recyclables collected since FY 2008.

Over the course of the past few years, the Streets Department has initiated operational changes to the 530,000 home program including by switching to 'single-stream' collections and from bi-weekly pickup to weekly pickup. The Department has also made new recycling bins available to many residents through distribution at events and through various community and civic groups.

Since 2010, Philadelphia residents with curbside recycling service have also been eligible to participate in the Philly Recycling Rewards program. Some 195,000 households have signed-up for the program, which credits participants with money-saving "points" that can be redeemed for discounts at many area retailers. The City's Recycling Rewards program was the recipient of the 2012 U.S. Conference of Mayors Innovative Partnership Award.

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The Streets Department and Recyclebank were also awarded a 2014 Pennsylvania Waste Watchers Award for the Hunting Park Recycles project, a targeted neighborhood recycling initiative.

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Recycling Rewards Program

The City of Philadelphia and Recyclebank were selected for the Outstanding Award in Public/Private Partnerships by the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM). The award was announced during the USCM's winter conference on January 19th. More information can be found through these hyperlinks: (detailed on page 17 of U.S. Mayor)


Material List (can and can't recycle)

Collection Schedules

Sanitation Convenience Centers

Recycling Guide

Related Items

Tire Round Up

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Oversized Items and Dumping

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Old Electronics and Household Hazardous Waste


Philadelphians continue to recycle more old electronics, dropping off some 500,000 lbs. in 2012 – a 40% increase from the previous year. Residents can drop-off old electronics including TVs and computers, at year-round at the City's three permanent sanitation convenience stations, and at eight remote events spaced throughout the year. Residents are also now able to drop-off old electronics at Ezekiel Baptist Church on Grays Avenue the 2nd Sunday of each month thanks to a partnership between the City and ECovanta.

Sanitation receives discarded electronics at its three convenience centers. Discarded electronics may also be brought to the seven scheduled HHW events as described above. It is not permissible to set out discarded electronics in regular residential trash collection.

The Sanitation Division does not maintain a permanent household hazardous waste (HHW) receiving facility. HHW is collected at scheduled one‐day events throughout the year. For calendar year 2011 there are seven such events scheduled in different geographical areas of the City. The events are run by a contracted service provider. At the HHW events residents may bring the usual range of HHW materials including: paints, lawn and garden chemicals, household cleaners, automotive fluids, batteries, fluorescent light bulbs, etc. Also collected at these events are discarded electronics.

Learn More about the Hazardous Waste Policy

Grass-Cycling and Composting

Yard Waste Collection

During a six‐week period of the fall leaf season, yard waste is collected separately at curbside. Sanitation provides this scheduled service with public employees in November and December, all neighborhoods being served several times. All leaves must be placed by the residents into biodegradable paper bags and then placed at the curb. Purchase of the biodegradable paper bags is the responsibility of the resident. During most of the year, yard waste may be commingled with trash and set out for combined collection. No separate yard waste collection is provided by Sanitation.

The collected leaves are taken to the Fairmount Park Organic Recycling Center where it is combined with yard wastes resultant from the Park's operation. The operation is a windrow composting program. The compost and mulch produced are available in small quantities to Philadelphia residents free of charge.

Holiday Tree Recycling

Trees were able to be dropped off at the City's three sanitation convenience centers for a two-week period, ending on January 19th, and at 10 locations managed by various neighborhood and civic organizations on January 5th and 6th (Northern Liberties Association provided overall coordination among civics). Trees were accepted by Fairmount Park and processed into mulch. A combined estimated total of 55.5 tons of trees were collected through the program.