Blog › Recycling update - what's in and what's out


Recycling update - what's in and what's out

Marc Lefkowitz  |  04/12/19 @ 3:00pm  |  Posted in Recycle

Doreen Schreiber is one of six “ladies in waste” at the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District. Her role as Business Recycling Specialist is to help companies walk through the often-complicated business of reducing waste, and that includes recycling, composting, donating and strategizing how to reduce what’s going into a landfill.

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Schreiber confirms that in 2019 China stopped taking U.S. recycling (it was too dirty, for one). There’s an imperative to rethink the tons of packaging waste if it is to be diverted from the landfill‐or stop being produced in the first place.

Reduce-reuse-recycle is still the mantra, but the rules have definitely changed. Schreiber will come to your business and help set the record straight, for instance, on what can and cannot be recycled. Her knowledge cuts right through the fog.

Bottom line, relying on numbers (#1-7) for recycling is Kaput. Done. Got it? What’s left is categories.

There are five categories of recycling that contain all of the accepted recycling. If you’re still throwing something just because it has a number into a recycling bin you are probably a “wish cycler.” So, with no further ado, the following are the details behind the County’s definitive set of rules on recycling. What is in and what is out at this moment.

The only items that are recyclable are in these categories:

  1. Cans
  2. Cartons
  3. Glass
  4. Paper & boxes
  5. Plastic bottles & jugs

Here’s the breakdown of Schreiber’s FAQs from the categories.


Metal cans — Yes (don’t have to pull off paper labels. Place lid inside can)

Aluminum pop cans — Yes

Spray cans — No


Milk cartons — Yes

Juice boxes — Yes


Glass bottles — Yes (screw cap back on)

Pyrex — No

Paper & boxes

Boxes with clear Cellophane window — Yes (don’t have to pull out Cellophane)

Magazines and junk mail — Yes

Office paper — Yes

Cardboard — Yes

Shredded paper — Yes (in a separate bin provided by Paper Retriever or River Valley)

Pizza boxes — Maybe (if the box is clean or just the lid is clean, it can be recycled, otherwise it goes with compost or landfill)

Plastic bottles & jugs

Plastic water bottles — Yes (screw lid on tight)

Parmesan cheese containers with the green lid — Yes

Salad dressing bottles — Yes (rinse with soap and dry)

Cleaner bottles — Yes (nothing terribly caustic like bleach)

Drano, detergent and antifreeze containers — No

Ice cream plastic container — No

Items that are no longer accepted (and will ruin a whole bag or bin)

Berry containers — No

Salad “clamshells” — No

Styrofoam take out containers — No

Fruit cups — No

Plastic yogurt cups — No

Pill bottles — No

Lids with straws — No

Aluminum foil — No

Items that are returnable

Plastic bags — return to the store

Plastic pots for plants — Lowe’s accepts them

Fruit plastic bags — Yes (take to grocery store)

Fluorescent tube lights — Yes (Batteries + Bulbs with 4 locations locally will buy them back)

CFLs (Lowe’s will take the twisty bulbs. Home Depot will not.)

Christmas lights — Cuyahoga County Solid Waste accepts them

For a complete list of items that can and cannot be recycled if you live or work in Cuyahoga County, visit www.cuyahogarecycles.org

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