Still have more in-depth questions about recycling? Chances are, if you have a question, someone else does too! Here are the most frequently asked questions. If you don’t see the answer to your question, feel free to contact us.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I toss loose shredded paper in my blue bin?
The Materials Recovery Facility (MRF), where our recyclables go, prefers that any shredded or small bits of paper be placed in a paper bag and tossed in your blue bin. Small pieces of paper can fall through the cracks at the MRF, not making it all the way through to be baled and sold.
Should I break down my cardboard boxes before recycling?
Yes! In fact, breaking down boxes can help your neighbors and the entire city! Unbroken boxes take up room in your blue bin and can cause it to overflow with recyclables. This can cause big problems. For example, overflow can prevent the lid from being shut all the way which can allow water to seep into the bin and potentially contaminate the load. Broken down boxes eliminate the contamination possibility and makes space for all of your neighbor’s recycling.
Can Styrofoam (or expanded polystyrene) go in my blue bin?
No! Styrofoam, or expanded polystyrene, is difficult and dangerous to breakdown in the recycling process. That is most Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs) cannot accept it. Consider buying or using recyclable products instead!
Can plastic bags be recycled (by themselves or with recycling in them)?
No! Plastic bags are very bad for our Material Recovery Facility (MRF). One bag can get stuck in the machines and shut down the entire facility. If you collect your recycling in a bag, consider paper. When going to the store, consider using a reusable bag or requesting paper.
Where can I recycle plastic bags?
It’s easy! Most grocery stores take back plastic bags for recycling. Visit http://www.plasticfilmrecycling.org/ to search your zipcode to find the nearest location to you.
Can I leave caps on recyclable containers and bottles?
Yes! Caps from plastic bottles, plastic containers and paper cartons should be placed back on their counterparts after a quick rinse and then tossed in your blue bin. If they go in alone, they can fall through the cracks at the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) and won’t be recycled.
I broke a glass bottle, can I still recycle it?
Yes! All glass, broken or whole, can be recycled in your blue bin.
Can I recycle aluminum and aluminum foil?
Yes! Clean aluminum containers and foil are recyclable.
Can I recycle magazines?
Yes! You can recycle all magazines, glossy or not, in your blue bin.
Can I recycle my junk mail?
Yes! All of your paper junk mail (windowed envelopes, glossy magazines and newspapers) should be tossed in your blue bin.
Can I recycle aerosol cans?
Unfortunately, aerosol cans (hairspray, spray paint, cooking oil spray) must go in the trash. If they still have contents inside, please take them to the Household Hazardous Waste Facility for proper disposal.
Can I recycle my pizza box?
Yes! Well usually most of it. If your pizza box is soaked in grease and food remnants, simply tear off the top portion of the box for recycling. If the box is clean, break it down and toss the whole thing in your blue bin!
Can I recycle my paper towel and toilet paper rolls?
Yes! If it is cardboard, it should be placed in your blue bin.
Can I recycle TVs?
Yes! But not in your blue bin. TVs and other corded electronics can be picked up during your scheduled monthly bulk pickup. Learn how bulk pickup works. TVs can also be dropped off for recycling at Operation Brightside's Recycling Center located at 1660 S. Kingshighway 63110. Please call 314-664-1450 or visit www.earthcirclerecycling.com for details and hours of operation. Search here for even more locations that accept TVs.
Can I recycle Christmas trees?
Yes! But not in your blue bin or any alley dumpsters. The City usually hosts an annual holiday tree recycling program following Christmas day and running through the second week of January. Through this, trees can be dropped off at one of three parks for free or put out for bulk pickup. Wreaths and pine tinsel are not accepted. Please visit the Refuse Division’s Christmas Tree Recycling Page for locations and instructions. For year round Christmas tree recycling search here to find locations near you.
Can I recycle textiles?
Yes! But not in your blue bin. Many places around the city accept various textile materials for recycling or as donations. Search here to find a location that works for you.
How do I opt-out of receiving junk mail or telephone books?
- To opt-out of junk mail visit: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0262-stopping-unsolicited-mail-phone-calls-and-email
- To stop receiving telephone books visit: https://www.yellowpagesoptout.com/
The recycle dumpster is blocking my garage, what do I do?
Sorry that happened! Contact the Citizens' Service Bureau online at www.stlouis-mo.gov/CSB or by phone at 314-622-4800 to put in a request to have the dumpster moved.
My recycling cart is broken, what do I do?
We can fix it! Please contact the Citizens' Service Bureau online at www.stlouis-mo.gov/CSB or by phone at 314-622-4800 to have your cart fixed or replaced.
I just moved to the city, how do I recycle?
- Welcome! If there is an alley behind your home, look for the blue recycling dumpster. This is where you should toss your loose, clean and dry recyclables in at your convenience and close the lid. The dumpster will be emptied once a week. Remember, the City only services private residences.
- If there is not an alley behind your home, you should use a blue recycling cart. Toss your loose, clean and dry recyclables in and close the lid. Roll your cart out for pick up on your designated recycling day (find out when that is here).
- Feel free to download the “Ultimate Guide to St. Louis City Waste Services.” This guide explains the City’s waste services including recycling.
My recycling cart is missing. What do I do?
We can replace it! Please contact the Citizen’s Service Bureau online at www.stlouis-mo.gov/CSB or by phone at 314-622-4800 to have a new cart dropped off at your home.
I live in a large apartment complex, do I use the City’s recycling program?
Most likely not. Please check with your building manager or property owner to learn how recycling is handled at your complex.
I have other issues with my recycling cart or dumpster, who do I contact?
The Citizens’ Service Bureau handles all operational requests and complaints. You can contact them online at www.stlouis-mo.gov/CSB or by phone at 314-622-4800.
How do I dispose of old medications?
Please check with your doctor’s office or local pharmacy for proper medication disposal instructions or possible take back programs in your area. Please DO NOT flush or put medications down the drain. Some of our sewers may lead directly to a water stream rather than a water treatment plant.
Can I opt out of recycling?
Only if you really, really want to. Recycling is part of the City’s comprehensive waste services plan which includes trash, yard waste, recycling, bulk pickup and monthly dropoffs at the transfer stations. To opt out of ALL City waste services contact the Citizens' Service Bureau online at www.stlouis-mo.gov/CSB or by phone at 314-622-4800. You will need proof of contract with a private waste hauler.
I see people dumpster diving, is this legal?
Ordinance 64116 states, “(k) Scavenging in or from any refuse container is prohibited from dark to dawn and (l) scavenging in or from any container designated for recyclables is prohibited.” Details of this ordinance can be found here. This ordinance only applies to St. Louis City, so other municipalities will have their own ordinances. Remember, if you see suspicious activity you can report it to the CSB (online or by phone 314-622-4800) or if it is an emergency call 911.