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Not everything with a recycling symbol is accepted in Delaware’s single stream recycling program. DNREC works with the Delaware Solid Waste Authority, and others, to help Delaware consumers understand what should go in the recycling stream, and what should not.
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.
Paper — Magazines, catalogs, junk mail, envelopes, office paper, newspapers, paperback books, paper bags, phone books, wrapping paper (no foil paper), notebook paper
Paperboard — Cereal boxes, snack food boxes, paper towel rolls, toilet paper rolls, paper egg cartons, paperboard envelopes
Corrugated Cardboard — Corrugated shipping boxes and packaging
Cartons (with caps on) — Milk cartons, juice cartons, chicken broth cartons, coconut water cartons, juice boxes, coffee creamer, egg beaters
Plastic Containers (with caps/lids on. No need to crush) — Narrow neck bottles (water, juice, and soda bottle; shampoo and mouthwash bottle; detergent bottle; bleach bottle), plastic tubs (yogurt container, butter container), plastic jugs (milk jug), plastic clamshell container (strawberry container)
Cans (no need to crush) — Aluminum beverage cans, “soup” cans, pet food cans, clean aluminum foil and foil pans
Glass Bottles and Jars (Remove tops from glass jars and recycle both items) — Glass bottles (any color), beer bottles, wine bottles, soda bottles, glass jars
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:
Paper— Shredded paper, paper towels, napkins, tissues, paper plates, paper cups, coffee cups, hardcover books, wax paper, tissue paper, bubble envelopes, Fed-Ex envelopes (ty-vex), receipts
Paperboard — Frozen food packaging, refrigerated packaging (box from butter, etc), ice cream containers
Corrugated Cardboard — Greasy pizza boxes
Plastic Containers — Plastic bags; bubble wrap; and plastic film packaging from paper towels, toilet paper, water bottles, etc. (take back to retail store), motor oil and chemical containers, potato chip bags, plastic plates, plastic utensils, plastic straws, plastic packaging (blister packaging), plastic toys, plastic furniture, plastic hangers, small pill bottles
Styrofoam — Plates, cups, egg cartons, take out containers, peanuts, packaging material (clean Styrofoam can be droppd off at a DSWA facility)
Metal — Scrap metal, metal hangers, pots, pans, bottle caps, aerosol cans, paint cans, electronics, household batteries, extension cords, string lights
Glass — Mirrors, window glass, glass cookware, glass drinkware, lightbulbs
Food Waste — Rinse all containers of food and liquid residue
Yard Waste — leaves, grass clippings, branches
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).
Organics, Compostables, and Yard Waste
Clean Styrofoam Packaging (Call DSWA at 1.800.404.7080)
For more information read the How to Recycle Guide.