Single Stream's Terrible Ten - Keep Out of Your Recycling Container!

1. NO Plastic Bags

Plastic bags are the WORST contaminant for any recycling center, especially single stream systems. Whether put in buckets or carts, the bags get wet, dirty and clog and jam recycling equipment and cannot be recycled. If kept separate, clean and dry, plastic bags can be recycled at most grocery stores and big box stores, such as Target and Walmart.

2. NO Materials in Plastic Bags

Workers must slow down the conveyor belts to try to catch and rip open bags that contain recyclables. Even worse, the bags often slip by the sorters and can jam up equipment or end up as unseen contaminants in bales of paper. When this happens, entire trailer loads can be rejected and our program charged high penalty fees. In addition to wasting time and money, the bags ultimately end up in a landfill.

3. NO Shredded Paper

Shredded paper is too small to sort. The pieces fall through the cracks of the sorting machines, stick to the belts and end up all over the floor. If you want to recycle your shredded paper, please follow the new guidelines for recycling shredded paper (PDF).

4. NO Ceramics or Non-recyclable Glass

No light bulbs, ceramics, dishes, mirrors or window glass should ever be put in your recycling container. Light bulbs can contain hazardous mercury. The other types of glass have different melting points that will ruin new glass bottles.

5. NO Non-recyclable Plastics (#3, #4, #6, or #7)

When single stream began in September 2014, we added Number 1 and Number 2 plastic food trays to the Number 1 and Number 2 plastic bottles we currently collect. We are not be collecting Number 3, Number 4, Number 6 or Number 7 types of plastic containers until recycling markets improve. Major changes in the global plastic market have made it very difficult to find environmentally sound markets for Number 3, Number 4, Number 6 or Number 7 plastics. Some recycling centers have been forced to send these plastics to incinerators or landfills. In Burlington County, we only collect items we can truly recycle. Please do not set out any Number 3, Number 4, Number 6 or Number 7 plastics in your recycling now or when single stream collection starts.

6. NO Liquids

When we compact bottles for shipping, a term called "baling," liquids drop, splatter and explode all over the floor, creating a sticky mess in the recycling center. Please completely empty and quickly rinse out all containers before recycling. You can avoid wasting water by rinsing containers in leftover dishwater.

7. NO Frozen Food Containers

Paperboard boxes that were designed for freezer foods, such as frozen pizza, ice cream and entrees, have a plastic polymer sprayed on them to protect against freezer burn. This coating prevents the box from breaking up in the recycling process.

8. NO Scrap Metal

Scrap metal items of any size should not go into your curbside cart or bucket. These items cause excessive damage to recycling equipment. Check with your municipality to see if they offer a scrap metal recycling program or bring them to the County's Resource Recovery Complex (PDF).

9. NO Hazardous Waste

Hazardous waste such as paint, motor oil, batteries, and pesticides must be taken to a Hazardous Waste Facility (PDF) and never placed in curbside or drop-off recycling containers.

10. NO Diapers or Bio-Hazardous Waste

Syringes and needles, diapers, and other sanitary products are NEVER recyclable.