What can I recycle?

Refer to the guides below for the basics on what should and should not go into your curbside recycling bin:

What Can I Recyle Image/

Unacceptable Material

Johns Disposal
Have a question on if a specific item should or shouldn’t be recycled? Reach out to your waste hauler or Jefferson County Solid Waste at 920-674-7430 for more information. We’re here to help!

Recycling reminders:

“Know Before You Throw”

Know an item is okay to be recycled before you toss it in your curbside bin. If you have any doubt if it can be recycled, either leave it out, or reach out to your waste hauler or Jefferson County Solid Waste for information. Check out this interactive guide from the Illinois EPA to help you get started.

Putting items in your curbside recycling cart that cannot be recycled can disrupt the sorting process, harm workers, damage equipment, and ultimately result in contamination that prevents the items from being recycled. Recycle smart, and know before you throw.

Do not bag your recyclables

No Plastic BagsDo not bag your recyclables. Keep them loose in your cart. This allows for the items to be better sorted, and increased safety for those who are manually sorting through items at the collection site. Having items loose also allows for recycling facility staff to easily remove contaminates from the recycling stream, increasing the likelihood those materials can go off and become new items. If you prefer to collect in a bag, simply dump the materials into your cart when ready, and discard any soiled plastic bags in your trash.

Flatten all boxes and cardboard, but keep plastics, cans, and cartons in their 3-D form

Flatten all your cardboard boxes, including smaller food boxes. Flattening your cardboard allows for more materials to be placed in your curbside cart and the service trucks. Collapsing boxes also prevents other types of materials from hiding inside the cardboard which leads to improper sorting and contamination.

The same advice does not apply to plastics, cans, and cartons however. Current sorting equipment relies on the overall shape of cartons, cans, and plastic bottles to be sorted properly. Keep these materials in their full shape (with the caps on) to ensure they are best sorted into their proper categories.

No plastic bags

As stated above, plastic bags should not be
in your curbside cart. Plastic bags are notorious
for gettingRecycle Clean Dry Plastic Bags 2.jpg tangled in the sorting equipment and often require the sorting line to be shut down while team members cut the bags out. Plastic bags can also contaminate a final bale of recyclable material by sneaking their way in which reduces the amount of materials that would go on to becoming new, recycled products. 

Good news is that while plastic bags cannot be recycled in your curbside recycling bin, they can be recycled by other means. All plastic bags and plastic film can be brought back to most grocery stores, Target, Wal-Mart or Kohl’s for specialized recycling. Check out Plastic Film Recycling’s website to find a collection site near you.

What do we mean by plastic film? Newspaper bags, bread bags, produce bags, food storage bags, dry cleaning bags, overwrap around cases of bottled water, toilet paper, napkins, and paper towel, air pillows, etc. Check out the helpful guide below.

Empty and Rinse Your Recyclables

Empty and RinseMake sure your recyclable materials are empty and quickly rinsed before tossing them into your cart. If containers are heavily soiled (such as peanut butter jars), add some warm soapy water, give it a few shakes, and then rinse the container. Materials do not need to be spotless to be recycled, however they should not have heavy food residue that could contaminate otherwise clean materials.

Where do my recyclables go?

After they are picked up by your waste hauler, recyclables will go to a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) to be sorted and processed. Often times multiple waste haulers will bring their materials to the same MRF. Recyclables collected in Jefferson County go to Johns Disposal Service’s MRF located in Whitewater. Click here to see how John Disposal Service sorts and processes your recyclables.