‘Can I recycle this?’ Your comprehensive recycling guide to Jacksonville’s curbside service

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — After six months of no curbside recycling in Jacksonville, the service is back up and running for Duval County residents.

If you haven’t recycled over the last six months, or you want to start now that the service is back, this article breaks down what you need to know to get up to speed.

Because recycling is a regional enterprise, meaning different cities have different rules, it can get a little confusing determining what can be recycled and how to properly recycle it.

We’re going to start with the basics. There are three fundamental rules to follow when trying to recycle more efficiently.

  • Recycle bottles, cans, paper and cardboard.
  • Empty, clean and dry.
  • No loose plastic bags or bagged recyclables.

IS THIS RECYCLABLE?

The following items can go into your recycling bin:

Plastic bottles and containers. This includes single-use food and beverage containers, but also bottles of shampoo, body wash, lotion, laundry detergent, cleaning products, etc.

If you turn any plastic container upside down, there should be a number printed inside the recycling arrows. Only recycle numbers #1-3, 5 and 7.

Tin, aluminum and steel cans. This includes canned soda, soup, tuna, beans, and even scrap metal larger than the size of a credit card.

Paper makes up nearly 30 percent of waste generated each year, according to Republic Services. You can recycle envelopes, office paper, junk mail, greeting cards and file folders. You can also include newspaper inserts, catalogs, paperback books, and brochures. If it’s smaller than a credit card, throw it in the trash.

Cardboard from your amazon packages, poster board, and file folders. Pizza boxes are fine too, just make sure you are not leaving any linings or leftover food behind.

You can find a more comprehensive list here.


EMPTY CLEAN & DRY

This is a big one. According to Waste Management, 25 percent of its recycling loads are contaminated by food waste. Ensure you properly clean and dry your recyclables prior to placing them in your recycling bin. Contamination from food, mold, or water can ruin your good efforts or the good efforts of others.

This video by solid waste collection company Republic Services breaks the concept down in a simple minute-long video.


NO PLASTIC BAGS

When plastic bags are thrown into a curbside bin, they end up at a recycling facility where they wreak havoc on machines.

Clean and dry plastic bags can be recycled at many local retailers. Visit www.plasticfilmrecycling.org to find a take-back location near you. Make sure to check with your local drop-off to see what is and is not accepted.

Pro-tip: Opting for eco-friendly reusable grocery bags or paper bags would significantly cut down on unnecessary waste.

Not-so-fun fact: In one year, Americans use 100 billion plastic bags. To put that level of consumption into perspective, the average American uses 365 plastic bags per year. In Denmark, people use an average of four plastic bags per year.



The following information is specific to Duval County.

NOTHING SMALLER THAN A CREDIT CARD

Some things are just too tiny and too problematic at the recycling facility to be thrown in with your [emptied, rinsed, and dried!] milk jugs. Toss small pieces like bottle caps and bits of paper in the trash.

STYROFOAM OR POLYSTYRENE CONTAINERS

Egg cartons, fast food take-out boxes, bulk packaging—this airy, expanded material creates volume and bulk at the landfill.

For things like packing peanuts, call your nearest UPS or other shippers. Some of them take packing peanuts of all sizes, shapes, and colors for reuse.

**Many plastic utensils and some disposable straws contain polystyrene.

BIO-MEDICAL WASTE is not recyclable. The City of Jacksonville urges people to place small amounts of needles or lancets in a hard plastic or metal container (like a coffee can).

Do not use a clear container or a glass container. Secure the lid with heavy-duty tape. Discard the container in the middle of your garbage receptacle.

For proper disposal of any bio-medical waste please consult with your health care provider or the Duval County Health Department at (904) 253-1280.

USED OIL

Used oil is prohibited by law in landfills.

Never pour used motor oil in the garbage, on the ground, or down street drains. It can poison drinking water.

One gallon of improperly disposed waste oil could pollute one million gallons of fresh water.

Many local oil retailers accept used motor oil for recycling from residents at no charge (maximum 5 gallons per consumer per trip). You can arrange the pick up of major used appliances by calling (904) 630-CITY (2489) prior to placing them at the curb. Remove or secure any doors.

BATTERIES

Single-use batteries can be recycled at many locations or using mail-in programs, but not in your curbside bin. The same applies to rechargeable and car batteries.

Confused about all the types and sizes of batteries? Check out the Homeowner’s Guide to Battery Recycling and Disposal to learn more about how to properly dispose of various batteries commonly used around the home.

BUBBLE WRAP

Although many plastics can be recycled, the particular kind of plastic bubble wrap is made from cannot be recycled, because the thin film can tangle in machines.

Plenty of big-box retailers like Target, Walmart and Lowe’s collect bubble wrap and other packing material.

GLASS

The City of Jacksonville says green, brown or clear glass bottles and jars can be recycled but lids must be thrown away.

All broken glass must be wrapped and sealed in newspaper or other protective covering and placed only in the garbage.

FLUORESCENT BULBS AND TUBES

These are considered hazardous materials. You can dispose of these items at the Household Hazardous Waste Facility free of charge. The Facility is located at 2675 Commonwealth Avenue.

AEROSOL CANS

No.

CABLES AND WIRES

No.

PAPER TOWELS

No.

CLOTHING

Old clothes, bedding and towels that are still in good condition are best suited for Goodwill, Salvation Army, Hubbard House, or other thrift store or shelter.

TOYS

Unwanted toys are best donated too.

ILLEGAL DUMPING

It is illegal to dump trash and debris on vacant land, roads, streets, drains and ditches. To report illegal dumping you can call (904) 630-CITY (2489).

“WISH-CYCLER”

Wish-cycling is the act of putting a non-recyclable item in the recycling bin with the hope that it will be recycled. But throwing random items in a recycling bin without any real thought for where it belongs will likely ruin the good-intentioned efforts of others.

NEED TO REQUEST COLLECTION OR REPORT A PROBLEM?

Call (904) 630-CITY (2489) or visit the MyJax online customer service website at myjax.custhelp.com.



Samantha Mathers

Samantha Mathers, Action News Jax

Samantha Mathers is a digital reporter and content creator.