Recycling Frequently Asked Questions

What can I recycle in the Gainesville program?

Your blue bin is for recycling containers such as glass bottles & jars, steel cans, aluminum cans, plastic bottles, and cartons. Your orange bin is for recycling papers such as cardboard, paperboard boxes, newspapers, magazines, office paper, junk mail, phone books, and paper bags. Download the Quick Print List of Recyclables or visit online for a complete list of recyclable items.

What can’t I recycle in the Gainesville program?

Any items not specifically listed as accepted for recycling in the Gainesville program should not be placed in your recycle bins. Examples of items NOT accepted for recycling include: any type plastic bags, shrink wrap, plastic mailing envelopes, foam or Styrofoam® materials, plastic air-pillows, to-go or take out boxes, plastic clamshell containers, six-pack rings, resealable storage bags, bubble wrap or bubble wrap envelopes, plastic straws, microwavable trays, plastic egg cartons, plastic utensils, coat hangers (plastic or metal), aluminum foil, aluminum pans or trays, scrap metal, pots or pans, appliances, full or partially full aerosol cans, stainless steel water bottles, thermoses, glassware, dishes, ceramics, silverware, broken glass, mirrors, light bulbs, juice pouches, paper towels, paper napkins, tissues, thermal paper cash register receipts, glossy photographs, paper straws, bakery boxes, paper plates or cups, coffee cups or coffee cup lids, popcorn bags, pet food bags, glossy type gift bags, hardcover books, batteries, hazardous waste, electronics, electric cords, laundry baskets, yard edging, toys, or any food contaminated containers or papers.

How do I get replacement recycle bins?

To request replacement or additional recycle bins, call 352-334-2330 or submit a request online. Recycle bin deliveries should be completed within two weeks and will arrive on your regular service day. Please be sure to have your old or broken recycle bins placed curbside so that those bins can be collected and recycled.

Why can’t I just put items in my recycle bin and hope for the best?

If in doubt, leave it out. When items that are not accepted for recycling (contaminants) are placed in with the recycling, it increases the cost of processing recyclables and can damage expensive sorting equipment. Also, contaminants lower the quality of the recyclables, thus decreasing the market value of the materials.

Are plastic grocery bags recyclable?

blue plastic bag with a red no circle around it❌ NO. Plastic bags of any kind are NOT accepted for recycling in the Gainesville program. Plastic bags are the number one contaminant in the recycling industry as they add cost to the recycling process. Plastic bags can become entwined in gears during processing, which can result in damage to expensive equipment and halting the entire sorting operation.

Most plastic grocery bags can be recycled by returning the bags to the store of their origin. Publix, Winn Dixie, Wal-Mart, Target, Kohl’s, and other stores generally have designated recycling containers near the front of the store or near the customer service area where you can recycle your plastic bags. Plastic bags should be empty, clean, and dry before placing them in the store recycling containers.

Can I put my recyclables in plastic bags?

❌ NO. Never place your recyclable out of for collection inside plastics. Recyclables should be left loose and in your recycle bins. Bagged recyclables add cost and time to the processing of recyclables.

assortment of various plastic bottle capsShould I take off lids and caps before recycling containers?

✅ YES. Smaller lids, such as bottle caps and water bottle lids, should be removed and disposed of with your garbage. Larger metal lids from glass jars can be rinsed off and placed loose in the blue bin. Larger plastic lids from laundry detergent bottles can be placed back on once containers have been fully emptied.

How clean do my bottles and cans need to be for recycling?

Most containers only required a light rinsing. However, a more thorough cleaning may be necessary for bottles and jars that held sticky foods or liquids, like peanut butter or syrup. Milk and juice cartons should be rinsed out with soap and water to prevent mildew from setting in.

Is aluminum foil recyclable?

❌ NO. Aluminum foil, pie pans, and trays are NOT accepted for recycling in the Gainesville program. Aluminum foil is too often food contaminated for recycling. Aluminum foil is also a lighter weight material than aluminum cans, which limits its marketability.

aluminum foil, aluminum pie tin, and aluminum tray with a red x

Is there a size limit on plastic containers that can be recycled, like the jumbo-sized cat litter jugs?

✅ YES. Plastic containers and plastic buckets that are 3 gallons or smaller in size are accepted for recycling in the Gainesville program. Please be sure to removed metal handles from containers before placing them in your recycle bin. ❌ Containers over 3 gallons in size and containers with rubber gaskets under the lids are NOT accepted for recycling.

Can I recycle shredded paper?

brown paper bags with the words Shredded Paper inked on the sideShredded paper is accepted for recycling in the Gainesville recycling program; however, all shredded paper must be placed inside a closed paper bag and labeled "Shredded Paper" on the outside of the bag. ❌ DO NOT put shredded paper in plastic bags.

How can I recycle big boxes or large amounts of cardboard boxes?

Flatten or cut all cardboard boxes into pieces no larger than 4 feet by 4 feet. The flattened boxes can be placed out for collection under or next to your recycle bins. If you have large volumes of cardboard boxes, you may take the boxes for free to any of the five Alachua County Rural Collection Centers for recycling.

Are pizza boxes recyclable?

The vast majority of used pizza boxes are too contaminated with food residue or grease stains for recycling and should be disposed of with your garbage. Exceptionally clean pizza boxes can be treated just like cardboard and placed in paper recycle bins. If only the bottom of the pizza box is stained, the top of the box can be removed and recycled.

clean pizza box with a green check mark and a food contaminated pizza box with a red x

Are pasteboard boxes with plastic film or plastic windows recyclable?

✅ YES. Remove the plastic windows from the boxes like pasta boxes and the plastic film from the top of tissue boxes before placing them in your recycle bin and disposed of the plastic film with your garbage.

remove plastic window from pasta boxes and plastic film from tissue boxes

Is Styrofoam® or other foam materials recyclable?

❌ NO. Styrofoam®, expanded polystyrene blocks, foam trays, and shipping peanuts are NOT accepted for recycling in the Gainesville program. If you are not able to reuse this material, please dispose of it with your garbage and be sure to bag shipping peanuts to avoid creating any litter problems. Some grocery stores, like Publix, accept back clean foam trays and foam egg cartons for recycling. Look for designated recycling containers near the front of the stores.

Are all plastics with a recycling symbol on it recyclable?

❌ NO. The recycling symbol on containers represents the general category of plastic that material is made from, but it does not mean the container is recyclable in your community. Plastics vary significantly by their resin types (chemicals & dyes) and physical properties (rigidity & melting temperatures). Often there are no processes available or market demand for lower grade (non-rigid) plastic items or large bulky plastic materials.

For Gainesville residents, don’t be concerned with the number in the recycling symbol on a plastic item when determining if that item is accepted for recycling. Instead, follow the simple guideline that if a plastic item is both a container AND made of rigid plastic, then it is accepted for recycling.

Can I recycle plastic clamshells, egg cartons, and deli containers?

❌ NO. Clamshells and other lightweight (non-rigid) plastic containers are NOT recyclable in the Gainesville program. These types of non-rigid plastic containers are often used to store and sell bakery foods, deli items, fresh berries, and mixed candies.

various non-rigid plastics and plastic clamshell containers with a red x

Are packaging materials recyclable?

Some PAPER packaging material is recyclable, however plastic bubble wrap, bubble-lined envelopes, and air-pillows are NOT recyclable in the Gainesville program. If you are not able to reuse this material, please dispose of it with your garbage and be sure to pop or poke holes in air-pillows.

Are plastic microwavable trays recyclable?

❌ NO. Plastic microwavable trays and other black plastic containers are NOT recyclable in the Gainesville program. While often made from recycled plastics, these containers are heavily dyed and are difficult to process into new plastics.

black plastic tray with a big red x across the image

Can I recycle boxes with tape or labels on them?

YES. Boxes with tape or labels on them can still be processed for recycling; however, the more tape you can remove, the better, as it will increase the recyclability of the material.

Are drink pouches recyclable?

❌ NO. Plastic or foil pouches of any kind are NOT recyclable in the Gainesville program. This material is difficult to process and has a limited marketability.

various non-recyclable drink pouches

Are empty plastic prescription vials recyclable?

❌ NO. Plastic prescription vials (pill bottles & medicine bottles) are NOT recyclable in the Gainesville program. Unfortunately, empty plastic prescription vials are not well suited for recycling and have a limited recyclable market. The adhesive (glue) from paper labels on the vials can be a contaminate when reprocessing this plastic into new plastic materials. Additionally, these vials are often too smalls to make it successfully through recycling sorting equipment. Small items fall out and get sorted in with trash like bottle caps and broken pieces a glass.

three amber-colored plastic prescription vials

What do I do with my recycle bins when moving out?

Recycle bins and trash carts are the property of the WCA and the City of Gainesville. Residents should leave all assigned bins and carts behind at the home for the next tenants to use.

Who picks up my recycling, and where does it go?

The Solid Waste Division oversees the residential collection services within the limits of the City of Gainesville. The City’s collection contractor, Waste Corporation of America (WCA), collects the recyclable materials from the orange and blue bins and then delivers the recyclables to Alachua County’s Recovered Materials Processing Facility. At the processing facility, recyclable materials are sorted into alike materials, prepared for shipping, and then marketed to various suppliers across the continent that need raw materials to make new products.

What day is my recycling picked up?

To find out your collection day, call 352-334-2330 or enter your address online. If your address is within the City of Gainesville limits, the online map will display your home’s location in a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday collection day area.

Can I recycle appliances and electronics?

✅ YES. Residents will need to schedule an appointment before setting out appliances or electronics for collection. To arrange a collection appointment, call 352-334-2330 or visit online and select either Appliance Collection or Electronics Recycling.