Curbside Recycling Guidelines

York County Curbside Recycling Guidelines

The following information is provided to aid York County residents in the proper disposal of recyclable materials.  These items constitute a majority of the most commonly recycled items included in drop-off and curbside recycling programs. Items accepted for recycling may vary depending on the type of recycling program and/or where you live.  To find out if your municipality offers a curbside or drop-off recycling program, and what is included in the collection contact your municipality directly.

Today’s Recycling CRISIS:

China is the world’s largest buyer of recyclable material. The Chinese government recently imposed new rules severely restricting the levels of contamination allowed in the recyclable material they accept. These changes have had catastrophic consequences on the recycling industry in the US and globally.  For example, bales of mixed paper were allowed to have approximately 5% contamination in them, or 92 pounds of trash, in a 1,850 pound bale of recycled paper. Beginning in 2018, China changed those restrictions to a 0.5% contamination rate, or 9 pounds of trash in a 1,850 pound bale of recycled paper.  Consequently, recyclers are now having a difficult time meeting these requirements and a lack of US-based end users is complicating this problem.

What is contamination?
Contamination is any non-recyclable item (trash) that gets mixed into a bale of recyclable material. When bales of recyclables arrive in China, they are cut open and sorted through. Items such as plastic bags, clothing, medical waste, Christmas lights and any other non-recyclable items are considered “contamination.”

What can residents do to Reduce Contamination of Recyclables?   Educate yourself on what items your waste hauler accepts for recycling.  Do not throw items in the recycle bin unless you know for sure it is recyclable. When In Doubt, Throw It Out!  Make sure that wet, non-recyclable items are disposed of in the garbage.

• Clear, blue, brown and green glass food & beverage containers
√ Rinse thoroughly to ensure they are free of contaminants and residue.
√ Remove caps or lids and dispose of them in the trash.
√ It is not necessary to remove labels and neck rings

• Aluminum beverage cans
• Steel and bi-metal food & beverage cans, aerosol cans, paint cans
√ Rinse thoroughly to ensure they are free of contaminants and residue.
√ Remove caps or lids and dispose of them in the trash.
√ It is not necessary to remove labels

• Plastic containers #1 through #7
√ Rinse thoroughly to ensure they are free of contaminants and residue.
√ Remove caps or lids and dispose of them in the trash.
√ It is not necessary to remove labels and neck rings
√ Crush containers to maximize space in your recycling bin.

Paper, Paperboard & Cardboard:
• All sizes of cardboard boxes
• Clean pizza boxes
• Paperboard packaging (i.e. cereal and tissue boxes)
• Shelf-stable and refrigerated food and beverage cartons (rinse cartons and remove and dispose of caps)
• EMPTY paper towel and toilet paper rolls
• Office paper (any color)
• Shredded paper (in CLEAR plastic bags)
• Newspapers and inserts
• Magazines, catalogs and brochures
• Envelopes and junk mail
• Paper bags
• Phone books and other soft cover books
√ Remove packaging (Styrofoam “peanuts,” plastic bubble wrap, liners, etc.)
√ Break down and flatten ALL boxes.
√ Bundle all cardboard that does not fit into recycling container and place beside bin on recycling pick-up day.
√ Cover loose paper with heavier items to prevent it from blowing away.
√ If the weather forecast calls for high winds or wet weather, keep paper recyclables until the next week, if possible.



• Needles and medical waste – DO NOT place used needles or any other medical waste in your recycling! Doing so poses a potential health hazard! Place used needles in a plastic detergent bottle and dispose of in regular trash.
Household medical waste should also be included in regular trash.
• Food waste and food soiled material
• Broken glass
• Drinking glasses
• Light bulbs and Christmas lights
• Windows, mirrors and ceramics
• Aluminum foil
• Scrap metal
• Clothing hangers (metal and plastic)
• Hoses
• Chemical, oil and solvent containers
• Plastic grocery bags – Plastic bags including grocery; bread; vegetable; dry cleaning; newspaper and many more can be recycled at most grocery stores.  For more information, visit
• Plastic bubble wrap
• Plastic food wrappers
• Plastic utensils (forks, knives, spoons, etc.)
• Styrofoam (packaging “peanuts,“ styrofoam cups and bowls, etc.)
• Paper towels and tissues
• Wet paper and cardboard
• Electronic waste – By law, Pennsylvania residents and businesses may not dispose of electronic devices at the curb or in their trash.  Electronic devices include desk top computers; laptops; monitors; computer peripherals such as a keyboard, mouse, printer, etc.; televisions and e-readers.

 York County Solid Waste Authority’s Public Recycle Drop-off Center:

The York County Solid Waste Authority operates a Public Recycle Drop-off Center at 2685 Blackthorne Court, York, PA 17406.  The Recycle Drop-off area is open seven days a week during daylight hours.  All items listed above are accepted at the Drop-off Center.

Directions to Recycle Drop Off Center