What To Recycle in Your Bin / Cart

Click here for questions about your recycling bins/carts, collection, and local programs

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Mixed Recycling

RI's mixed recycling program covers the items you can put in your recycling bin/cart at home, school, work, etc. You can watch, read and/or download our basic guidelines on this page. Stick to these, you’ll be a great recycler! Ready to take your recycling to the next level? You can opt to download our detailed guidelines at the bottom of this page.  Your efforts to recycle right will keep recycling workers safe, saves cities and towns money, provide high-quality raw materials to manufacturers, and preserve space in the Central Landfill.

Please recycle ONLY the following in your bin/cart:

Paper, cardboard, and cartons  

That's it—no other fiber products. For example, wood and textiles are made from natural fiber but they aren't paper, cardboard, or cartons, so they don't belong in your bin or cart. Paper and cardboard should be mostly clean and dry (a little grease on a pizza box is OK) and be flattened. Cartons must be empty at a minimum, and rinsed whenever possible. Place plastic tops back on to cartons prior to recycling.

No shredded paper, and no napkins, tissues or paper towels. 

Metal cans, lids, and foil

That’s it—no other metal.  For example, a metal frying pan is not a can, lid, or foil, so it doesn’t belong in your bin or cart. Containers must be empty at a minimum, and rinsed whenever possible. Foil should be clean and bunched up.

Glass bottles and jars

That’s it—no other glass. For example, a drinking glass is not a bottle or jar, so it doesn’t belong in your bin or cart. Containers must be empty at a minimum, and rinsed whenever possible. Remove metal tops from glass bottles and jars first, and recycle separately.

Plastic containers

That’s it—no other plastic. For example, a plastic coat hanger is not a container, so it doesn’t belong in your bin or cart.  Containers must be empty at a minimum, and rinsed whenever possible. Place plastic tops back on to containers prior to recycling.

No foam containers, or plastic containers that once held flammable materials or oily chemicals like gasoline, motor oil, antifreeze, pesticides or herbicides.

No plastic bags, bags of bags, or recycling inside of bags!

Recyclables must arrive to our Materials Recycling Facility loose. Click here to learn more about Rhode Island's special program for recycling plastic bags and film.

Let's Recycle RIght! 

Created in partnership with Recycle Across America®, our award-winning "Let’s recycle RIght!" campaign promotes proper recycling in the Ocean State. The PSAs feature prominent Rhode Islanders, including: Governor Gina Raimondo, Lt. Governor Dan Mckee, Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, American Idol Finalist Erica van Pelt, RI Foundation CEO Neil Steinberg, Dancer Shura Baryshnikov, Ed Tarbox of Tarbox Toyota, Rhody the Ram of URI, and many more noteworthy personalities.

Recycle Across America Labels

Rhode Island is the first state in the nation to adopt Recycle Across America standardized labels.  To date, there are over 145,000 labels in place across RI. These labels are proven to increase recycling and decrease contamination. Free labels are available to public schools and government agencies, as well as private businesses and institutions who participate in RI’s recycling program. Download our Label Info and Placement Guide below for more information. Individual residents who want a label for their bin/cart at home can request one from their Department of Public Works.

Detailed Guidelines

Our goal is to see every Rhode Islander following the basic guidelines above; however, if you are super passionate about recycling 100% right, you can download our detailed guidelines below, too. They include more “don’ts,” and tips for preparation. Following these will take your recycling from great to superb, ensuring that our recyclers are getting exactly what they need. These detailed guidelines live exclusively on the web, so we can update them more regularly as small things change. Still have questions?  Our A-Z search tool is perfect for you!

Take a Virtual Tour of RI's Materials Recycling Facility (MRF)

Ever wonder what happens to your recycling when it leaves the curb? In this video you’ll get an inside look at RI’s Materials Recycling Facility, or the “MRF” for short. All of RI’s cities and towns bring their mixed recyclables to the MRF, and their journey begins on the tip floor…