Recycling in Seattle 2019

I recently listened to a radio news program on NPR that reported Seattle Public Utilities would like Seattleites to refrain from “wishful recycling.” Wishful recycling is putting something in the recycling bin that you believe looks recyclable and must be recyclable, although you really are not sure.    Wishful recycling makes the sorting process much less efficient.  Also, some recyclers are not accepting our recycling because it is contaminated with too much non-recyclable materials. Well, guilty as charged.  In my endeavor to recycle properly, I thought I would consult the Seattle Public Utilities website for some FAQs on what can and cannot be currently recycled. There are also several links for more info in the FAQs below. I hope this helps you (including me) to do a better job to keep recyclables out of our environment.  Feel free to send me an email if this was helpful.

Here are answers to the most frequently asked questions about recycling. If you don’t find your item on this page, try using their Lookup Tool. Still have questions? Email  SPU’s Ask Evelyn or follow her on Facebook.

Aluminum foil and pie pans – Clean aluminum foil and food pans can be placed in your recycling cart. Reuse foil whenever possible.

Caps and lids – Lids larger than three inches in diameter can be recycled. Tin can lids must stay hooked to the can and be pushed down inside. Put plastic caps back on plastic bottles for recycling. Loose caps, lids smaller than three inches in diameter, and detached metal lids go in the garbage.

CD cases – CD cases go in the garbage and cannot go in your recycling cart. Search King County’s Reuse and Recycling website for private recyclers.

Compostable food ware – Compostable food ware cannot go in your recycling cart. Plain uncoated (non-shiny) paper plates and approved Cedar Grove compostable food ware (pdf) is accepted in your food and yard waste cart. All other food ware labeled compostable or biodegradable goes in your garbage.

Computers and electronics – You can request a home pickup for your computer, monitor, or television by calling (206) 684-3000. There is a $20 collection fee. Limit: three items. These materials will be recycled safely. For free recycling drop off for computers, monitors, and TVs, visit E-Cycle Washington or call 1(800) RECYCLE.  For cell phones, stereo systems, VCRs, printers, computer keyboards and mice, use the Take It Back Network to find out where to take them.

Packing materials – Styrofoam “peanuts” and Styrofoam blocks go in the garbage and cannot go in your recycling cart. Styrofoam can be recycled for free at:  V&G Styro Recycle

Bubble wrap can go in your recycle cart. Bundle it together in a plastic grocery bag and place it in your cart. Bubble envelopes cannot be recycled and must go in the garbage. Reuse these materials at home or some mailing and shipping businesses may accept “peanuts” for reuse (call 1-800-RECYCLE).

Plant pots – Clean plant pots go in your recycling cart.  An alternative is to reuse them for your own plant starts and house plants or check the King County Materials Exchange to find nurseries that may reuse the pots.

Plastic food bags – Produce bags, bread bags, frozen food and Ziploc pouches go in the garbage and cannot go in your recycling cart. Plastic food bags often contain food residue and moisture that contaminate the rest of the plastic material. An alternative is to reuse them for storing food at home and for shopping.

Plastic shopping, newspaper and dry cleaning bags – They can be placed in your recycling cart. Stuff into one bag for recycling. Do not recycle plastic food bags because of contamination issues. An alternative is to avoid the need for plastic shopping bags by taking your own bags to the store.

Prescription containers – Empty prescription medicine containers go in the garbage and cannot go in your recycling cart. Cylindrical prescription vials are not recyclable. Find medicine disposal locations.

Shredded paper – Only long shreds (at least 8 ½ inches long and ¼ inch wide) can be recycled. Put them in a clear plastic bag and tie off. Confetti or crosscut shreds cannot be recycled, as they have no useful fibers for recycling. They can also be bagged and placed in the garbage. As an alternative, all shredded paper can be layered in food and yard waste carts with organics.


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