FAQs

Below we've listed the most frequently asked questions, based on calls to our hotline. For more detailed information check out our extensive Recyclopedia, with recycling and disposal instructions.  You can also keep up with our weekly columns in the Providence Journal.

Q. Where can I get another recycling bin?
A
. Call your local Department of Public Works. A list of their telephone numbers can be found here.

Q. Why do I have to flatten cardboard?
A. Recycling trucks can only use light compaction and therefore cannot crush cardboard boxes. Cardboard must be flattened and tied into bundles so that they will fit into the truck. It all depends on your city or town’s trucks, so ask your DPW for acceptable dimensions. If you do not prepare cardboard boxes correctly, they will leave it at the curb.

Q. How can I recycle a computer and a TV?
A. RIRRC accepts computers and all their accessories as well as TVs in our Small Vehicle Area during hours of operation. It is against the law in RI to dispose electronic waste in the landfill. Most cities and towns also have local collections.

Q. Why can't I recycle the cardboard boxes from 12-packs of soda cans?
A
. This type of cardboard has been treated with a chemical that prevents it from disintegrating when the cans "sweat." It is difficult for the paper mills to break down the cardboard with water when they try to recycle it. Therefore, put these boxes, as well as all cardboard packaging from refrigerated or frozen foods (ice cream boxes, microwave dinners, fish sticks) in the trash.

Q. My propane tank is metal. Can I put it in my recycling bin?
A. No, and don't put it in the trash either. The tank may seem empty but will have trace propane in it, and it may explode and injure people when it is handled by trash processing machinery. Even the small camp-style tanks can be hazardous. Several stores like Home Depot and Wal-Mart have trade-in programs where you bring them your empty full-size tank and they'll give you a new filled one. Schedule your free Eco-Depot drop-off or call 942-1430 x 241 for more information.

Q. Can I recycle tissues and paper towels?
A. No. Facial tissues, aka Kleenex and Scotties, are not recyclable. Paper towels are not recyclable either,Tissue paper, which is often used in gift boxes and as stuffing for gift bags, is accepted for recycling.

Q. Can I recycle books?
A. Yes, but we prefer that you donate them if they are still in good condition. You can bring books to RIRRC and place them in a bin provided by Reading Tree, or contact your local DPW to find out if there are bins in your area. If you aren't able to donate your books, and if the book has a hard cover, remove it and put the paper pages in the green bin. Paperback books are completely recyclable.

Q. Why aren't pizza boxes recyclable?
A. If the pizza box were totally clean, it would be. The problem is that they seldom are. It is the grease from the pizza that is the problem. If the top of the box is entirely clean, rip it off and place it in your recycling bin, throwing the greasy part in the trash.

Q. How can I recycle my ink jet cartridges?
A
. Some schools and charities collect used cartridges for fund-raising purposes. Also, some office supply stores such as Staples and Office Max will recycle the cartridges.

Q. How do I get to the Johnston dump?
A.
Good question! There actually isn't a "Johnston dump". We operate what is known in the solid waste management industry as a "Sanitary Landfill", and there's a big difference between a dump and a landfill. There are no longer any municipal dumps in Rhode Island. There are two landfills-one in Johnston and one in Tiverton. The Tiverton landfill is for Tiverton residents only, but the Central Landfill in Johnston is for all Rhode Islanders to use. To get to the RIRRC facility to dispose your waste, click here for directions.