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NEW Single-Sort Recycling with MORE MATERIALS accepted!

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NEW – Single-Sort Recycling

What is Single-Sort recycling? Does this mean that I don't have to separate ANYTHING? Single-Sort allows all of your recyclables to be mixed together in your recycling cart. It means that you only have to make one sort – separating all the recyclables from your trash. You no longer have to sort papers and containers separately. However, it does NOT mean that garbage and recyclables may be mixed together.

When will Single-Sort recycling take effect? Now! You can immediately take advantage of the convenience of Single-Sort recycling in your home. Since there is no longer a need for keeping papers separate from the plastic, metal and glass, new recycling carts will not contain dividers. Over time, crews will remove the existing dividers from carts and recycle them.

Do I have to do anything differently in order to participate? No, you will automatically become a part of the new program. Simply review what new materials you can add to the list of things that you place in your cart!

This sounds like a major change. Will you need different equipment to collect recyclables? While different equipment processes the recyclables now, no new collection equipment is needed for this change. We will still be able to use the same carts and trucks that we have now to collect recyclables.

Do I need to prepare my recyclables differently since they are all going in the same container? Just as before, empty and rinse food and beverage containers and flatten boxes. Shredded paper may now be placed in either clear plastic bags (tied off) or in paper bags and stapled shut.

Won't my papers get wet? Doesn't that make them non-recyclable? Only place dry cardboard and paper in your cart. A small amount of moisture from containers that have been rinsed out won't affect the recyclability of your papers.

Will I have a different collection schedule under the new program? No. Pickup schedules will continue to switch from guaranteed collection dates from April through November to non-guaranteed dates during winter months.

It says that I can recycle bulky plastics like buckets and laundry baskets – how do I recycle these items? Bulky #2 plastics may be set next to your cart for collection by recycling crews if they do not fit in your cart.

Are pill bottles accepted? Yes, they are made from #5 plastic and may be recycled as a part of the new program. Peel off the label to protect your privacy.



What exactly is a carton? Cartons are a type of packaging for food and beverage products. They are easy to recognize and are available in two types: shelf-stable and refrigerated. Cartons are mainly made from paper in the form of paperboard, as well as thin layers of polyethylene (plastic) and/or aluminum.

Is there a waxy coating on cartons? Isn't that why they are difficult to recycle? What you may see as wax on a carton is actually a thin layer of polyethylene (plastic). Cartons are not difficult to recycle as long as the right systems are in place to do so.

What happens to cartons after they are collected? They are taken to a recycling facility to be sorted and baled. The bales are then shipped to paper mills, where cartons are mixed with water in a gigantic blender to extract all the paper fiber from the plastic and aluminum. The paper fiber is then ready to be used in making new recycled paper products.

What happens to the aluminum and plastic left over after the carton recycling process in a paper mill? Some mills are using the material for generating energy; others sell it to plastic manufacturers that use them for lumber board-like materials. Still in some cases the material ends up in a landfill. The Carton Council is working with paper mills to find a better solution for leftover aluminum and plastic.


  • Batteries
  • Buckets with paint or product residue
  • Ceramics or China
  • Coat hangers
  • Drinking glasses
  • Food soiled paper (clean pizza boxes ok)
  • Glass cookware/bake ware
  • Household items such as toasters & microwaves, etc.
  • Light bulbs
  • Mirrors
  • Needles & sharps, other medical waste
  • Porcelain
  • Plastic bag & film
  • Plastic bottles that contained motor oil or
  • Styrofoam or foam packaging material
  • Trash
  • Tissue & paper towels
  • Unmarked plastics
  • Window or auto glass

YES! Cartons are Recyclable!

NOW! The City of Milwaukee accepts cartons for recycling! The last drop of milk, juice or soup does not mark the end of the carton's useful life.

HOW? Simply place empty cartons in your recycling cart after rinsing food and beverage residue.

WOW! The recycled paper fibers are a valuable resource for making recycled paper products and building materials.