We ask that your recyclables are as clean as possible within reason. Empty beverage bottles into the sink to remove liquid or use a spatula to clean out a jar. We recognize that water is a precious resource in California and don’t require you to rinse your recyclables. Residual food should be composted or placed in the garbage. Mostly clean materials are just fine.
You can leave the cap on plastic and glass bottles. The best way to recycle a plastic bottle is to empty it, crush it, and leave the cap on. Empty it to make sure liquids don’t mess up other recycling. Crush it to save space. And leave the cap on so it doesn’t fall through recycling machinery and become trash. You can also leave metal lids on glass bottles; we’ll sort them when they get to our facility. Or even better, use a reusable bottle instead.
Beginning in January 2018, China no longer accepted plastic bags and soft plastic films (such as shopping bags, newspaper bags, dry cleaning bags, produce bags and Ziploc bags). There are no other recyclers willing to accept plastic bags from curbside programs, due to it being dirty from residue in recycling carts. In addition, plastic bags get caught in machines at recycling facilities and end up in bales of paper, lowering their quality. Therefore, no hauler is accepting plastic bags and soft film in recycling carts anymore. We recommend continuing to save your plastic bags and returning them to large grocers and retail stores that have recycled bins located near the store entrance. You can find some locations through the search bar on the homepage. The plastic in these programs remains clean enough to be recycled into new products like manufactured lumber.
We ask that you do not bag your recyclables in plastic bags. You can place them in the cart loose or in a paper bag. The only exception to this is shredded paper; bag shredded paper in a clear plastic bag and tie it, so our sort line crew can easily identify it.
Monterey County has five different haulers (GreenWaste Recovery, Monterey Disposal, Republic Services, Tri Cities Disposal and Waste Management) that collect transport your recyclables to two Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs) in Monterey County. Monterey Disposal operates a MRF in Monterey and MRWMD operates a MRF outside Marina. At the MRF, recyclables are processed and separated into material type (glass, paper, cardboard, metal, etc). The materials are baled and loaded on to trucks to be taken to recycling manufacturers throughout the United States and Asia. You can read more about the Recycled Materials Markets for MRWMD here.
Recycling guidelines are developed to ensure that materials are processed efficiently and are marketable. Recyclables are sent to Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs) that have complex sorting systems comprised of machines and human labor. A large volume of contaminants (materials that can’t be recycled) increases labor and machine maintenance, decreases facility lifespan and increases cost to ratepayers. Furthermore, clean quality recyclables improve our ability to market them and command higher purchase prices. This money returns to the community in the form of city revenue, improved recycling infrastructure and stable rates.
Currently, garbage is not sorted and goes straight to landfills in Monterey County. Please use your garbage cart as a last resort for materials that cannot be reused, recycled or composted.
Isn’t it ok to throw garbage or contaminants in the recycling - don’t you sort it? Garbage or contaminants that cannot be recycled increase labor and costs of operating the Material Recovery Facilities. They also jeopardize the quality of materials that are recyclable. For example, food reside can sully clean paper and cardboard. Plastic film may end up in bales of paper and lower their quality and marketability. If you are unsure if an item is recyclable, please use the search bar on the homepage.