Recycling: Follow these curbside recycling tips to help collection crews

·3 min read

Last month I followed the curbside recycling vehicles around town to get footage for a training video. While I was out, I noticed many of our curbside customers are not preparing their bins correctly, which leads to more work for our collection crews.

When a curbside recycling bin is prepared correctly, the collection crews empty each bin into the proper compartments in the truck, return the bin to the curb and head to the next residence.

When a curbside recycling bin is prepared incorrectly, the crews will collect the acceptable materials but they must fill out a “Thank You for Recycling But” tag to leave in the curbside bin along with the unacceptable materials. This tag explains why unacceptable items were left in their bin. The crews may also leave a Curbside Recycling Guide in the bin for education and guidance.

The average stop for a correctly prepared curbside recycling bin is 45 seconds, while an incorrect bin stop takes much longer.

Once I saw that so many bins were improperly prepared, I went to our social media platforms to try to educate readers on the proper way to prepare a curbside recycling bin.

I know that everyone wants to get it right, so if you follow the easy steps below, I guarantee the next time the crew comes to your residence to empty your bin, it will be turned upside down when they’re through.

Tips to prepare the perfect curbside recycling bin

1. Place rinsed plastic bottles, jugs and jars loose in the bin. Lids may remain on. Only plastic bottles, jugs and jars are accepted curbside. If your plastic is not a bottle, jug or jar, do not place it in your bin.

2. Place rinsed aluminum, steel and tin cans loose in the bin. Also accepted are empty aerosol cans, clean aluminum foil, empty paint cans, pie pans and spiral cans (think breadcrumb containers).

3. Place rinsed clear, green, blue and brown glass bottles, jugs and jars loose in your bin. Metal lids from glass jars can also be placed in the bin.

4. Flatten corrugated cardboard (boxes with the thick, wavy center) and place next to or under your bin. Do not place flattened corrugated cardboard into one, large un-flattened box. Though it seems like the right thing to do, just flatten all of the corrugated cardboard and leave it as stated above.

5. Now for paper. Paper seems to be the trickiest since paper is the only item that must be bagged or bundled so that it doesn’t blow out of the bins or trucks. Bag or bundle all clean office paper, mixed paper, paperboard/pressboard (think cereal/tissue boxes), magazines and newspaper together and place in the bin. Remember – bag/bundle all of your paper. Loose paper cannot be collected even though it is recyclable.

I do hope these tips help you to prepare the best bin you can. Who knows, I may ask if I can go around town this time with gift cards to reward perfect bins! Stay tuned and thanks for recycling (right!).

Amy Schirf is education coordinator for the Centre County Recycling and Refuse Authority. Contact her at

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