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Mixed Recycling

The Collection Centers and Solid Waste & Recycling Main Facility accept most recyclables together in the Mixed Recycling:

  • Aluminum Cans
  • Steel Cans
  • Cardboard and clean pizza boxes
  • Paper
  • Plastic bottles, tubs, jugs, and jars

Glass bottles and jars are accepted separately for recycling. Bottles and jars only. No food, drink, cap, cork, of lid.

The following items are accepted in the Mixed Recycling:

      Accepted Aluminum Can

 Aluminum Cans

   Clean & Empty

 Accepted Steel Cans

 Steel Cans

 Clean & Empty

Accepted Cardboard FlattenAccepted Pizza Box Open

      Cardboard Boxes                    Pizza Boxes

                   Flatten                                     Only a little bit of grease

 Accepted Junk Mail Accepted MagazinesAccepted Mixed PaperboardAccepted Newspapers 

         Junk Mail                    Magazines                 Paperboard Boxes           Newspapers

No paper smaller than a business card. No shredded paper.

 Accepted Office PaperAccepted Paperback BooksAccepted Toilet Paper Roll        Accepted Cartons

          Office Paper                  Paperback Books              Paper Rolls                Cartons

No paper smaller than a business card. No shredded paper.

Plastic Bottles, Tubs, Jugs, and Jars are the only plastics we accept in Mixed Recycling

accepted plastic beverage bottlesAccepted Plastic Laundry Bottle Accepted Plastic Milk JugAccepted Plastic Jarunaccepted plastic tubs

  Plastic bottles, jugs, and jars have a neck smaller than the base.                                    Plastic tubs have a plastic lid                                                                                                                                                          you can put back on.

When in doubt, throw it out!

If an item is not listed on the accepted list above, then do not put it in the recycling bin. Ask Shannon Culpepper, Recycling and Education Specialist, at 919-545-7874 or email at

To learn more about what is and is not accepted in Mixed Recycling visit our online guide- How Do I Dispose of...

As we are making the below changes, SW&R is working to update the signs at the Collection Centers and Main Facility. We will also be creating flyers and handouts for residents that will be posted here and available at the centers. 

Changes to Mixed Recycling Starting November 2019 

Plastic clamshells, other to-go containers, rigid plastics, and aerosol cans are NO longer accepted in Mixed Recycling at the Collection Centers and Main Facility.

Clamshells are containers that have a hinged lid, like a berry container. Rigid plastics include items like buckets, baskets, and toys. Images of examples are below.

If you would like to learn more about why these changes are taking place, please read the frequently asked questions below.

 Plastic Clamshell

Plastic Clamshell
(Not accepted)

 unaccepted plastic Produce Clamshell

Plastic Produce Clamshell
(Not accepted)

 not accepted plastic egg carton

Plastic Egg Carton (Clamshell)
(Not accepted)

 Plastic To Go Black

Plastic To Go Container
(Not accepted)

 not accepted bakery domed cake

Plastic Cake Container
(Not accepted)

 unaccepted plastic bowling setunaccepted plastic Sand Pail and Toys

(Not accepted)

 not accepted plastic bucket

Plastic Bucket
(Not accepted)

 unaccepted kitty litter bucket

Plastic Litter Bucket
(Not accepted)

not accepted plastic basket

Plastic Laundry Basket
(Not accepted)  


Empty aerosol cans are recyclable, but will no longer be accepted in the Mixed Recycling.  Aerosol cans can be put in the Scrap Metal bin to be recycled, and they must be empty.

 Aerosol Can  accepted shaving cream accepted pam spray can 

                                            Aerosol cans recyclable- in the Scrap Metal Bin

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is SW&R making these changes? 
Recycling markets have changed dramatically in the past two years, making it harder to recycle certain items. Plus, recycling in the U.S. continues to be contaminated. Contamination occurs when items that are not recyclable end up in the recycling bin.

All mixed recyclables go to a material recovery facility (MRF) to be sorted, through a series of machines and manual labor, and then the items are sent to a processor for recycling. MRFs have had to slow down their lines and add more people to try and reduce contamination and ensure the truly recyclable items are being sorted correctly. Individuals can help prevent contamination by making sure the correct recyclables are going in their bin.

SW&R conducted a recycling characterization study in September 2019 to learn what is in our Mixed Recycling. The study found that across the 12 Collection Centers and Main Facility, there is an average contamination rate of 8%, which is very good. However, the study also showed that a lot of contamination comes from materials that are look-a-likes: items that look similar to items that are recyclable, but are not. There also seems to be confusion on what is recyclable in general.

Why were these items accepted before?
SW&R staff want residents to know that if they are placing an accepted item in the Mixed Recycling bin it has a really great chance of being recycled. Not all plastics are the same and everything made of plastic cannot be recycled.

Plastic clamshells and other to-go containers have a very small chance of being recycled as there are very few markets for them. There are also few recycling markets for rigid plastics, like toys and buckets. Additionally, plastic to-go containers and rigid plastics can easily end up being sorted with the wrong material, which leads to contamination.

Plastic bottles, tubs, jugs, and jars are more easily recycled because they have established recycling markets and will continue to be accepted in the Mixed Recycling.

What happens if residents keep putting the removed items into the Mixed Recycling? 
When items are placed in recycling that are not recyclable they are considered contamination. If too much contamination ends up in the recycling, it is too difficult to sort out and therefore will likely be disposed of in the landfill.

Lots of people put items in the recycling bin when they are not sure it is recyclable. Either because it looks similar to an item that is recyclable or they are hoping it will ultimately be recycled. If you are not 100% sure an item can be recycled, do not put it in the recycling bin. When it doubt, throw it out!

Will we be able to recycle these items again in the future? 
Recycling markets are changing and new markets are in development. If a stable, domestic market is established in the future we may add some of these items back into the Mixed Recycling or set up other programs to collect them.

Who should I contact if I have more questions?
If you have any questions about recycling please contact Shannon Culpepper, Recycling and Education Specialist, at 919-545-7874 or email at