Keep Your Cardboard Clean


green dumpster with orange paper recycling only decal The City of Gainesville’s Mandatory Commercial Recycling Ordinance requires restaurants, retail outlets, and other businesses to recycle cardboard while preventing non-recyclable materials from contaminating the recycling stream (City of Gainesville Code of Ordinances Sec. 27-72 & 27-85).

Cardboard is one of the most extensively recycled materials globally. The fibers in cardboard are remarkably strong and can be recycled multiple times, leading to reduced energy consumption and less deforestation. Manufacturers need clean recycled cardboard material to produce everyday products we rely on, such as new shipping boxes, paperboard boxes, paper bags, paper towels, tissues, newspapers, writing paper, and chipboard.

Checklist for Success

  • ‘Recycling Only’ & ‘No Garbage’  decals are on the front of recycle containers.
  • Employees trained to flatten boxes and keep garbage out of recycling.
  • Containers are monitored regularly to ensure adequate service levels.
  • Lids are kept closed when containers are not in use.

empty and flatten boxes

remove plastic wrap from boxes

don't overfill dumpster, no garbage in dumpster, no foam in dumpster, no plastic in dumpster


What are contaminants?

Contaminants are materials that don’t belong in that mix of recyclables or are not recyclable at all. Common cardboard contaminates include garbage, food waste, greasy boxes, glass bottles, metal cans, Styrofoam/foam, and plastic bags & wrap.

Who do we contact if our recycling container doesn’t have "Recycling Only” or "No Garbage” decals on it?

Call your service provider (the company that collects your recycling) to have these decals put on the container(s).

Blue recycling only blue decal  Red   Orange recycle decal - Paper Recycling Only

Why should boxes be flattened before going into the recycling container?

Boxes that are not broken down means space is wasted inside the recycling container that could be used to recycle more materials.


What should we do if our recycling container fills up before its scheduled service day?

Contact your service provider (the company that collects your recycling) to have the container emptied ASAP. If your recycling container regularly fills up before your scheduled collection day, increase the container's size or the collection frequency.

Why should container lids be kept closed?

Lids should be closed whenever containers are not in use to prevent rainwater from soaking the boxes or creating litter around containers.


What happens if the cardboard gets wet?

Wet cardboard can be difficult to process, lowering its value; however, unless the cardboard is completely soaked to the point where it is breaking apart, it can still be recycled in most cases.

Are food contaminated boxes, such as pizza boxes recyclable?

No. The vast majority of used pizza boxes and other boxes that contained food are too contaminated with food residue or grease stains for recycling and should be disposed of with your garbage.

When is cardboard too contaminated?

Ideally, there shouldn’t be any contaminants mixed in with cardboard. Contamination levels by volume at or above 10% would be considered more than de minimus and thus not in compliance with city ordinances.