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How To Recycle


The more you know about how to recycle — as well as practical information like collection schedules — the easier it is to do your part to keep our city and our environment clean. So get into recycling. Here's important information that can help:

What You CAN Recycle


Emptied and rinsed – caps are OK
  • All Food and Beverage Containers
  • Hard Plastic Takeout Containers
  • Plastic Cold Drink Cups and Lids
  • Detergent and Shampoo Bottles
  • Pump and Spray Bottles
  • Plastic Pails, Buckets, Garden Pots


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


Emptied and rinsed
  • Milk 
  • Juice
  • Ice Cream
  • 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 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

Recycling Reminder…NO Plastic Bags!

Many people assume (innocently enough) that plastic bags are recyclable in our curbside recycling program. Although this assumption is understandable, plastic bags are in fact NOT recyclable curbside. Plastic bags tear and wrap around the moving parts in recycling processing machines and systems, leading to increased maintenance costs, equipment damage, and even worker safety issues.

So, please ensure that plastic bags STAY OUT of your blue recycling container or bin, and use reusable bags whenever possible. In order to safely recycle plastic bags return them to drop off locations at specially-marked recycling bins located at the front of most supermarkets, large grocery or big box stores (e.g. Walmart). For more information on proper plastic bag recycling click here

Recycling has its rewards!

You can earn rewards when you and your neighbors recycle — including gift cards, gift certificates and discounts. It's easy. All you need is a Philadelphia Recycling Rewards sticker on your recycling container. 

Learn More

Recycle single stream every week!

Recycling keeps getting easier. Put your recycling bin out every week on the same day as trash day. Plus, all recycling in Philadelphia is now single stream, meaning you can put all of your recyclables together in one bin — cans, glass, mixed paper, cardboard and most plastic containers — no need to sort or separate them. And if one recycling bin isn't enough to hold everything, just add another one.

What you can and can't Recycle

Whether you're a regular recycler or a first-timer, keep this information handy.

How to Recycle

Where do I get a recycling bin?  

The City will give you a recycling bin at any of these locations. But you don't have to have one of ours. You can use any household container (no larger than 32 gallons), as long as you write "RECYCLING" on it. 

In addition to our Sanitation Convience Centers, many of our community partners offer bin distribution. For a full map of all bin pick up locations, CLICK HERE.

How do I separate trash from recyclables?  

It's easiest to have a container or two set up where separation happens. Like a bin in the kitchen for bottles and cans you’ve washed out, and another in the office for used paper and mail. Just remember that with single stream recycling, it can all go in the same bin – we do the sorting for you. 
What types of containers can I use for recyclables?  

You can use any sturdy plastic or metal container that holds 32 gallons or less and just mark it with the word "RECYCLING" on its side. Don't use cardboard boxes as containers; they'll end up wet, split open and make a mess on your sidewalk. Instead, flatten them and place them in your bin to be recycled with your bottles, cans and paper. If one bin is not enough to hold all recyclables, simply add another one.