How to Recycle

Once you know the basics, recycling is an easy way to make a difference in our community. We’ve created a clear set of simple guidelines for you to follow that will help you become a recycling expert.

How to Prepare It

Don’t Use a Bag

Never bag or bundle your recyclables. Items should be placed in the cart individually.

  • Plastic bags can get caught in the machinery causing delays and damage to equipment.
  • Recycling facilities are not able to efficiently sort bundled materials, so it’s likely to end up in a landfill.

No Mixed or Connected Materials

When two or more materials are connected, they cannot be recycled as is, even if they’re all recyclable.

  • If all the mixed materials are recyclable, like a plastic package with a paper insert, separate the items and put them in your cart individually.
  • If only part of the mixed material is recyclable, like a cardboard toy package with a large plastic window, you should separate the plastic portion from the cardboard and recycle the cardboard.

Empty. Clean. Dry.

All items that you place in your recycling cart need to be emptied of their contents, cleaned of all residue, and free of moisture. Just one dirty item could contaminate all of the other recyclables.

What’s Recyclable Curbside?

Paper & Cardboard

Not all paper and cardboard is recyclable. Here’s a guide to determine if your paper or cardboard is recyclable.

Is it larger than a credit card?

Small papers, like shredded paper are likely to get stuck in our processing machines. Ensure anything that goes into your recycling cart is larger than a credit card. You can recycle shredded paper as long as it is contained within a recyclable paper bag.

Is it Mixed with Other Materials?

Paper and cardboard items are often combined with other materials — bubble wrap, packing peanuts, or plastic wrap. Before recycling, separate out the materials. The box is recyclable, but many of the packaging materials may not be.

Is it empty, clean & dry?

Before recycling items, they need to be checked for contamination from grease or other residues. Paper and cardboard that is contaminated by food (like a pizza box) is not recyclable.

Is it broken down and flat?

Break down cardboard boxes. It makes them easier to process and leaves more room for other recyclables. After breaking the item down you can often flatten it to save even more space.

Paper and cardboard that can be recycled

  • Newspaper
  • Mail & magazines
  • Office paper
  • Notebook paper
  • Food boxes — cereal, crackers, cookies, frozen meals
  • Shipping boxes
  • Moving boxes

Paper and cardboard that can not be recycled

  • Mixed-media mail & packaging
  • Uncontained shredded paper
  • Wet paper
  • Small sticky notes
  • Greasy pizza boxes
  • Packing peanuts and the plastic inside cardboard boxes
  • Wax-coated milk and juice cartons

Metal Cans

Not all metal cans are recyclable. Here’s a guide to determine if your metal can is recyclable.

Is it larger than a credit card?

Small materials on their own can get stuck in recycling machines. A good rule of thumb: if it’s larger than a credit card, it’s in the clear. If it’s smaller than a credit card, like a bottle cap, either reattach the lid to the bottle and recycle it together, or toss the lid in the waste container.

Are plastic labels removed?

Before recycling food and drink cans, remove any plastic labels. Paper labels are acceptable.

Is it empty, clean & dry?

Before recycling items, they need to be emptied, rinsed and dried before you place them in your recycling cart. This way, they don’t contaminate all the other materials in your recycling cart.

Look closely

Some metal cans have an insulated coating that might not be recyclable. If the item seems that it may not be recyclable, just throw it out.

Metal that can be recycled

  • Metal cans from vegetables, fruit or beans
  • Metal cans from meat, fish or pet food
  • Aluminum soda cans
  • Aluminum foil (unsoiled)
  • Empty aerosol cans with non-hazardous contents

Metal that can not be recycled

  • Aluminum foil (soiled with food)
  • Pop tabs (on their own)
  • Bottle caps (on their own)
  • Razor blades
  • Paint cans
  • Aerosol cans that contained hazardous chemicals (e.g. WD-40)

Glass Containers

Not all glass is recyclable, and it’s possible that changes in the recyclables market could mean acceptable glass could change in the future. Here’s a guide to determine if your glass is recyclable.

Is it durable?

Dining glassware, window glass or home décor are never recyclable and will break in your cart or in transit. Stick with durable glass food packaging containers and bottles.

Is it empty, clean & dry?

Before recycling glass containers, they need to be emptied, rinsed and dried before you place them in your recycling cart. This way, they don’t contaminate all the other materials in your recycling cart.

Are the lids removed?

Metal lids or caps on glass bottles and jars are too small to recycle by themselves, so remove them and throw them out.

Glass that can be recycled

  • Sauce jars
  • Ball jars
  • Wine bottles
  • Beverage bottles

Glass that can not be recycled

  • Window glass
  • Mirrors
  • Frosted glass
  • Pyrex
  • Drinkware
  • Decorative glass or crystal
  • Lightbulbs

Plastics

Not all plastic is recyclable. Here’s a guide to determine if your plastic is recyclable.

Can you poke a hole in it?

If you can push your finger through the plastic, it’s too flimsy to recycle. Grocery bags, sandwich bags and bubble wrap, for example, all need specific handling, so don’t put them in your curbside cart.

Is it in a plastic bag?

Recyclables should not be in a plastic bag. Instead, put your recyclables directly into your recycling cart to be sure those loads are able to be processed at the recycling plant.

Is it empty, clean & dry?

Before recycling items they need to be emptied, rinsed and dried before you place them in your recycling cart. This way, they don’t contaminate all the other materials in your recycling cart.

Are the lids on?

Lids are too small to recycle by themselves, so put them on the containers or throw them away.

Plastic that can be recycled

  • Detergent containers
  • Water bottles
  • Milk jugs
  • Peanut butter jars
  • Ketchup bottles

Plastic that can not be recycled

  • Grocery & sandwich bags
  • Polystyrene foam (Styrofoam)
  • Bubble wrap
  • Toys
  • Garden hoses

What Isn’t Recyclable at the Curbside?

No Plastic Bags & Wrappers

Plastic bags, plastic wrappers and flexible plastic packaging are too thin to be recycled. Reuse them in your home or return them to your local grocer for recycling.

No Food

Food scraps must be disposed of with your trash or composted where composting programs are offered.

No Electronics or Batteries

Electronics, batteries, and lightbulbs cannot go in your curbside recycling cart. Use the location finder search to find the proper place to recycle these items near you.

No Paper Masks

Surgical and disposable masks are not acceptable in your recycling cart and pose a health risk to recycling workers.

No Yard Waste

Yard Waste Collection in the City of Holland begins on the first Monday in April. To order yard waste service, call The Board of Public Works at 616-355-1500. The City of Holland will continue to offer our Fall Leaf Collection for leaves only and Spring Clean Up for brush, trimmings and branches.

No Diapers

Whether clean or dirty, diapers are not recyclable. Please place them in your trash.

No Soiled Paper

Items that are soiled or dirty are not recyclable. Please place them in your trash.

No Styrofoam®

Styrofoam is not recyclable. Instead, place these items in your trash.

No Tools

Tools and other hardware items should not go in your recycling cart. Dispose of these items in your trash, recycle metals with Padnos or donate them for reuse.

No Toys

Even if they are made of a recyclable material, toys should not go in your recycling cart. Dispose of these items in your trash or donate them for reuse.

No Construction Waste

Wood and other construction scraps should not be placed in your recycling cart. These items should be disposed of in your trash. Consider using a Project Pride coupon for large or special pickups.

No Medical

Medical items such as needles are dangerous for workers and should not go in your recycling cart. Please dispose of them in proper medical waste containers.

No Tangling Items

Items like hoses, string lights and wires tangle up recycling equipment. If they work, consider donating these items instead. Otherwise, dispose them in your trash.

No Clothing & Shoes

Clothing items can be taken to a dedicated reuse collection location but cannot be placed in your recycling cart. Use the location finder search to find the proper place to recycle these items near you.

Resources

Download Recycling Poster

Download a printable PDF poster for your home or business.

What do I do with items I can’t recycle curbside?

There’s a place to properly recycle or dispose of almost anything including appliances or hazardous waste. Search here to find out where to dispose these items responsibly.