What’s Recyclable in Delaware?

Not everything with a recycling symbol is accepted in Delaware’s single stream recycling program.

Despite headlines to the contrary, recycling is alive and well in Delaware. Delaware has a robust processing infrastructure to manage our recyclable materials. However, there has been an increase in the amount of unacceptable items being placed into recycling containers, which has had a negative impact. So the better question is “What is acceptable in Delaware?”

There are items that are acceptable for recycling and can go right into the recycling container.

There are items that are not acceptable for recycling in Delaware and should go in the trash container.

And there are some items that can be recycled, but require special handling.

Acceptable items should be loose, empty, clean and dry before being placed into a recycling container.

Paper products such as cartons, magazines, catalogs, phonebooks, junk mail, envelopes, newspapers, corrugated cardboard, paperboard (e.g. cereal boxes), paper bags, office paper, and paperback books.

Aluminum, steel and tin cans. No need to crush containers.

Glass bottles and jars. Remove tops from glass jars and recycle both items.

Plastic containers such as bottles, jugs, and tubs. Place tops back on plastic bottles, jugs and tubs and do not crush these items.

Delaware Recycles Poster

There are some items that are not acceptable in Delaware’s recycling program. Being “not acceptable” does not necessarily mean that it is not recyclable. It means that it cannot be placed in the curbside recycling container in Delaware.

At this point, the following items are not recyclable in Delaware and should be placed into a trash container:

Shredded Paper
Food Waste
Frozen and Refrigerated Food Packaging and Film
Tanglers (hoses, ropes, lights, fishing line, etc.)
Window glass, Ceramics or dishes
Pots and Pans

Motor oil or Chemical Containers
Paper cups and plastic straws
Paper towels and napkins
Plastic shell packaging
Large rigid plastics (Things like hangers, laundry baskets, flower pots, and storage totes)
Waxed paper
Anything with food residue or liquids

Plastic bags and film do not go in your recycle bin, because they get tangled in the machines at the material recovery facility. Return empty bags and film to retail store collection bins. Plastic film includes the plastic that covers cases of water bottles, paper towels, etc.

Lots of other items can be recycled. The majority of these items must be dropped off at various locations including local retail stores or through the Delaware Solid Waste Authority (DSWA).

Plastic Bags
Rechargeable Batteries
Household Batteries
Ink Cartridges
Scrap Metal
Building Materials
Organics, Compostables, and Yard Waste
Clean Styrofoam Packaging (Call DSWA at 1.800.404.7080)

For more information read the How to Recycle Guide.

How to Recycle Brochure


Close The Recycling Loop

Always remember to look for items with recycled content when you shop. Collecting recyclables is important. But if you really support materials going full circle, buy items with recycled content.

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