Recycling benefits us and the environment in numerous ways. Recycling conserves natural resources, lowers Greenhouse Gas emissions, reduces the need for new landfills, saves energy, reduces air and water pollution, and helps to create jobs domestically. Make a difference by actively and correctly participating in the City of Gainesville’s Curbside Recycling Program.
Gainesville’s dual-stream collection system optimizes our community's recycling program by minimizing costs and maximizing our return on materials. It’s important only to place accepted materials into your recycle bins and to keep contaminations (non-recyclable materials) out of your recycle bins. When contaminants make their way into the recycling stream, it increases the overall processing cost of recyclables. Contaminants can also cause damage to the expensive sorting equipment at the processing facility and devalue the marketability of the recyclables.
Recycle bins are collected on the same day as your regular garbage collection day. There are no additional costs for this collection service. Only residential homes serviced through the City of Gainesville's Residential Curbside Service Program are eligible for this service.
Please take a minute to run through the information of below to learn what can and can’t be recycled in your recycle bins at home.
- Place your recycle bins curbside for collection by 7 AM on your scheduled collection day. Remove your recycle bins from the curb between collection days (remove by 9 PM on the day collection has occurred). Repeat offenders not removing carts, bins or containers from the curb on non-collection days can be issued a $35 service charge per occurrence.
Find Our Your Collection Day
- Place recycle bins at least 4 feet on each side from garbage carts, yard waste, or other obstacles.
- Set your recycle bins within four (4) feet from the curb or the traveled edge of the road. Bins set back more than four (4) feet cannot be collected
- Help prevent litter and keep papers dry by setting your blue bin on top of your orange bin.
❌ Never put your recyclables in plastic bags.
- Remove all foam, plastic film, and other packing materials from boxes before setting them out for collection. Styrofoam® blocks and other foam products are not recyclable in the curbside recycling program. Foam packing materials should be disposed of with your garbage. Foam blocks too large to fit in garbage carts can be placed out for collection with other bulk waste items.
- All boxes should be empty and flattened into pieces no larger than 4 ft. by 4 ft. and placed in, under or next to your orange recycle bin for collection on your service day.
❌ Boxes set out curbside with materials inside will not be collected.
- Residents can also take materials for recycling and disposal to any of the Alachua County Rural Collection Centers.
Be sure all bottles, cans and carts are empty and clean of food residue.
Glass Bottles, Jugs & Jars
- Food and beverage glass only
- Empty out all liquids
- Clean out food residue
- Remove lids, caps and corks
❌ No glass vases or drinking glasses
❌ No ceramics
❌ No broken glass or mirrors
Metal Cans (Steel & Aluminum)
- Empty out all liquids
- Clean out food residue
- Remove plastic shrink sleeves and adhesive labels from aluminum cans
- Okay to place metal lids back in cans
❌ No need to crush of flatten cans
❌ No aluminum foil, pans or trays
❌ No scrap metal
❌ No stainless steel water bottles or thermoses
Plastic Bottles, Jugs, Jars & Tubs
❌ No plastic bags, wrap, cups or tubes
❌ No Styrofoam® or foam materials
❌ No plastic clamshell, egg cartons or deli containers
❌ No plastic utensils or straws
❌ No microwavable trays
Cartons (Tetra Pak & Gable-top)
- Food and beverage cartons only
- Rinse out with soap and water
- Remove plastic caps
❌ No pouches or straws
❌ No take-out containers
❌ No need to crush or flatten cartons
Be sure to remove all plastic bags and plastic wrap from papers.
- Flatten boxes into pieces no larger than 4 ft. by 4 ft.
- Remove any plastic film and packing materials (ex. Styrofoam®)
- Set flattened boxes in or under your orange bin
❌ No boxes with food residue, such as greasy pizza boxes
- Remove plastic windows from pasta and tissue boxes
- Paper egg cartons are okay
❌ No bakery or donut boxes
❌ No paper plates or cups
Newspapers, Magazines & Phone Books
- Remove plastic wrap and plastic bags
- Peel off and discard any front-page newspaper sticky note ads
- Remove and discard magnets from phone books
- Paperback books and manuals are okay to recycle
❌ NO papers with foil or glitter
Office Paper, Junk Mail & Paper Bags
- Remove food and wrappings
- Shredded paper must be placed inside a closed paper bag and labeled "Shredded Paper" on the outside of the bag. Limit 2 bags of shredded paper per week. ❌ No plastic bags
- Plain wrapping paper is okay to recycle
❌ No glossy type gift bags
❌ No popcorn bags or pet food bags
❌ No bubble envelopes
❌ No wrapping paper or greeting cards with foil or glitter
Any items not specifically listed as accepted for recycling in the Gainesville program should not be placed in your recycle bins.
❌ NO Plastic Bags
❌ NO Garbage or Food Waste
❌ NO Styrofoam or Take-out Boxes
❌ NO Batteries or Light Bulbs
❌ NO Cords or Coat Hangers
❌ NO Containers over 3 gallons
❌ NO Plastic Clamshells or Non-Rigid Plastics
When contaminants (items not accepted for recycling) make their way into the recycling stream, it increases the overall processing cost of recyclables. Contaminants cause damage to the expensive sorting equipment at the processing facility and devalue the marketability of the recyclables.
❌ Examples of items NOT accepted for recycling include: any type plastic bags, shrink wrap, plastic mailing envelopes, foam or Styrofoam® materials, plastic air-pillows, to-go or take out boxes, plastic clamshell containers, six-pack rings, resealable storage bags, bubble wrap or bubble wrap envelopes, plastic straws, microwavable trays, plastic egg cartons, plastic utensils, coat hangers (plastic or metal), aluminum foil, aluminum pans or trays, scrap metal, pots or pans, appliances, full or partially full aerosol cans, stainless steel water bottles, thermoses, glassware, dishes, ceramics, silverware, broken glass, mirrors, light bulbs, juice pouches, paper towels, paper napkins, tissues, thermal paper cash register receipts, glossy photographs, paper straws, bakery boxes, paper plates or cups, coffee cups or lids, popcorn bags, pet food bags, glossy type gift bags, hardcover books, batteries, hazardous waste, electronics, electric cords, laundry baskets, yard edging, toys, or any food contaminated containers or papers.
Pro Prep Tips
- Be sure all bottles, cans, and cartons are empty of liquids and food residue has been cleaned out.
- Remove lids, caps, and corks from containers. Lids & caps can be disposed of in your garbage, and corks can be taken to drop-off locations for recycling.
- Flattened boxes into pieces no larger than 4 ft. by 4 ft. and placed in, under, or next to your orange recycle bin for collection.
- Remove all foam, plastic film, and other packing materials from boxes before setting them out for collection. Foam blocks and air-pillows are not accepted for curbside for recycling.
- Shredded paper must be placed inside closed paper bags and labeled "Shredded Paper" on the outside of each bag. ❌ No plastic bags, please.
- Remove all recyclables from plastic bags. ❌ Plastic bags are not accepted curbside for recycling.
- Stack the blue bin on top of the orange bin to help prevent litter and keep papers dry.
What day is recycling picked up in my area?
Residential recycling is collected within the City of Gainesville on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. To find out the collection day for your address, click on the map below.
Tuesday (Blue), Wednesday (Green), Thursday (Pink)
Can I just put any item in my recycle bin and hope for the best?
❌ No. If in doubt, leave it out. When items that are not accepted for recycling (contaminants) are placed in with the recycling, it increases the cost of processing recyclables and can damage expensive sorting equipment. Also, contaminants lower the quality of the recyclables, thus decreasing the market value of the materials.
Can I put my recyclables in plastic bags?
❌ No. Never place your recyclable out of for collection inside plastic bags. Recyclables should be left loose and in your recycle bins. Bagged recyclables add cost and time to the processing of recyclables.
Should I take off lids and caps before recycling containers?
Yes. Smaller lids, such as bottle caps and water bottle lids, should be removed and disposed of with your garbage. Larger metal lids from glass jars can be rinsed off and placed back on once containers have been fully emptied. Larger plastic lids from laundry detergent bottles and plastic tubs can be placed loose in the blue bin.
How clean do my bottles and cans need to be for recycling?
Most containers only required a light rinsing. However, a more thorough cleaning may be necessary for bottles and jars that held sticky foods or liquids, like peanut butter or syrup. Milk and juice cartons should be rinsed out with soap and water to prevent mildew from setting in.
Is aluminum foil recyclable?
❌ No. Aluminum foil, pie pans, and trays are not accepted for recycling in the Gainesville program. Aluminum foil is too often food contaminated for recycling. Aluminum foil is also a lighter weight material than aluminum cans, which limits its marketability.
Are packaging materials recyclable?
Some paper packaging material is recyclable, however plastic bubble wrap, bubble-lined envelopes, and air-pillows are not recyclable in the Gainesville program. If you are not able to reuse this material, please dispose of it with your garbage and be sure to pop or poke holes in air-pillows.
Are drink pouches recyclable?
❌ No. Plastic or foil pouches of any kind are not recyclable in the Gainesville program. This material is difficult to process and has a limited marketability.
Can I recycle appliances and electronics?
Yes. Residents will need to schedule an appointment before setting out appliances or electronics for collection. To arrange a collection appointment, call (352) 334-2330 or visit online and select either Appliance Collection or Electronics Recycling.
Why do plastic shrink sleeves & adhesive labels need to be removed from aluminum cans?
Plastic shrink sleeves & adhesive labels can negatively impact not only the recyclability of the can itself but also have a detrimental effect on other recyclables. The plastic (PVC) shrink sleeves & adhesive labels act as an impurity in the smelting process of aluminum by creating excess smoke, gumming up machinery, and requiring extra electricity to melt the metal. Also, some automated recycling sorting equipment sensors incorrectly identify the aluminum cans with plastic sleeves as plastic containers and then the aluminum cans end up contaminating plastic materials.
Are batteries and light bulbs accepted curbside?
❌ No. Any type of battery or light bulb is not accepted in your curbside recycle bins.
For the proper disposal and recycling of household hazardous waste, residents in the City of Gainesville should take these materials to one of the Alachua County facilities that are equipped and trained to manage this type of material. For more information visit online at Alachua County’s Hazardous Waste Collection or call (352) 334-0440.
Are all plastics with a recycling symbol on it recyclable?
❌ No. The recycling symbol on containers represents the general category of plastic that the material is made from, but it does not mean the container is recyclable in your community. Plastics vary significantly by their resin types (chemicals & dyes) and physical properties (rigidity & melting temperatures). Often there are no processes available or market demand for lower grade (non-rigid) plastic items or large bulky plastic materials.
- For Gainesville residents, don’t be concerned with the number in the recycling symbol on a plastic item when determining if that item is accepted for recycling. Instead, follow the simple guideline that if a plastic item is a bottle, jug, jar, or tub, then it is accepted for recycling.
Can I recycle plastic clamshells, egg cartons, and deli containers?
❌ No. Clamshells and other lightweight (non-rigid) plastic containers are not recyclable in the Gainesville program. These types of non-rigid plastic containers are often used to store and sell bakery foods, deli items, fresh berries, and mixed candies.
Are plastic microwavable trays recyclable?
❌ No. Plastic microwavable trays and other black plastic containers are not recyclable in the Gainesville program. While often made from recycled plastics, these containers are heavily dyed and are difficult to process into new plastics.
Is Styrofoam® or other foam materials recyclable in my bins at home?
❌ No. Styrofoam®, expanded polystyrene blocks, foam trays, and shipping peanuts are not accepted for recycling in the Gainesville program.
- If you are not able to reuse this material, please dispose of it with your garbage and be sure to bag shipping peanuts to avoid creating any litter problems.
- Some grocery stores, like Publix, accept back clean foam trays and foam egg cartons for recycling. Look for designated recycling containers near the front of the stores.
Are empty plastic prescription vials recyclable?
❌ No. Plastic prescription vials (pill bottles & medicine bottles) are not recyclable in the Gainesville program. Unfortunately, empty plastic prescription vials are not well suited for recycling and have a limited recyclable market. The adhesive (glue) from paper labels on the vials can be a contaminant when reprocessing this plastic into new plastic materials. Additionally, these vials are often too small to make it successfully through recycling sorting equipment. Small items fall out and get sorted in with trash like bottle caps and broken pieces of glass.
Is there a size limit on plastic containers that can be recycled, like the jumbo-sized cat litter jugs?
Yes. Plastic containers and plastic buckets that are 3 gallons or smaller in size are accepted for recycling in the Gainesville program. Please be sure to removed metal handles from containers before placing them in your recycle bin.
❌ Containers over 3 gallons in size and containers with rubber gaskets under the lids are not accepted for recycling.
Are plastic grocery bags recyclable in my bins at home?
❌ No. Plastic bags of any kind are not accepted for recycling in the Gainesville program. Plastic bags are the number one contaminant in the recycling industry as they add cost to the recycling process. Plastic bags can become entwined in gears during processing, which can result in damage to expensive equipment and halting the entire sorting operation.
Most plastic grocery bags can be recycled by returning the bags to the store of their origin. Publix, Winn Dixie, Wal-Mart, Target, Kohl’s, and other stores generally have designated recycling containers near the front of the store or near the customer service area where you can recycle your plastic bags. Plastic bags should be empty, clean, and dry before placing them in the store recycling containers.
Are K-cups (Coffee Pods) accepted for recycling?
❌ No. Single-serve coffee pods are not accepted for recycling in the Gainesville program.
Can I recycle plastic tubs?
Yes. Be sure to empty and clean out tubs before placing them in your blue bin. Peel-off foil and plastic film from containers. Tub lids are okay to recycle.
Are plastic mailers recyclable in my curbside bins?
❌ No. Plastic mailers are not accepted for recycling in your curbside recycle bins. To recycle these items you’ll need to remove the paper labels from the mailers and then take them to a plastic film drop-off location.
Can I recycle shredded paper?
Yes. Shredded paper is accepted for recycling in the Gainesville recycling program; however, all shredded paper must be placed inside a closed paper bag and labeled "Shredded Paper" on the outside of the bag. Limit 2 bags of shredded paper per week.
❌ Do not put shredded paper in plastic bags.
How can I recycle big boxes or large amounts of cardboard boxes?
Flatten or cut all cardboard boxes into pieces no larger than 4 feet by 4 feet. The flattened boxes can be placed out for collection under or next to your recycle bins. If you have large volumes of cardboard boxes, you may take the boxes for free to any of the five Alachua County Rural Collection Centers for recycling.
Are pizza boxes recyclable?
The vast majority of used pizza boxes are too contaminated with food residue or grease stains for recycling and should be disposed of with your garbage. Exceptionally clean pizza boxes can be treated just like cardboard and placed in paper recycle bins.
- If only the bottom of the pizza box is stained with grease, then the box's top can be removed and recycled.
- While some other communities may be able to take food contaminated pizza boxes in their recycling programs, our only available downstream paper recycling processor rejects contaminated loads.
Are pasteboard boxes with plastic film or plastic windows recyclable?
Yes. Remove the plastic windows from the boxes like pasta boxes and the plastic film from the top of tissue boxes before placing them in your recycle bin and disposed of the plastic film with your garbage.
Can I recycle boxes with tape or labels on them?
Yes. Boxes with tape or labels on them can still be processed for recycling; however, the more tape you can remove, the better, as it will increase the recyclability of the material.
Can I use my recycle bins to set out other materials for collection?
❌ No. Orange and blue recycle bins are provided to households for the sole purpose of holding bottles, cans, cardboard, and other papers for recycling collection. The City of Gainesville reserves the right to remove recycle bins not used for their intended purpose.
What are the dimensions of the recycle bins?
The approximate bin dimensions are 18.3” (depth) x 27.75” (width) x 13.5” (height). Each recycle bin weighs approximately 4.4 lbs.
Where can I get a recycle bin caddy?
Caddies or other devices used to store and transport recycle bins are not provided by the City of Gainesville or the City’s contracted hauler. Recycle caddies are available for purchase by residents from third-party vendors, such as local hardware stores and online retailers. Neither the City of Gainesville nor the City’s contracted hauler is responsible for replacing damaged, lost, or stolen caddies or other bin transporting devices.
What should I do with my recycle bins when I move?
Recycle bins and garbage carts are the property of the collection contractor and the City of Gainesville. Residents should leave all assigned bins and carts behind at the home for the next tenants to use.
Where can I drop off extra loads of recyclables?
City of Gainesville residents can also take materials for recycling to any of the Alachua County Rural Collection Centers. For locations and hours visit Rural Collection Centers.
To request replacement or additional recycle bins, call 352-334-2330 or submit a request online. Recycle bin deliveries should be completed within two weeks and will arrive on your regular service day. Please be sure to have your old or broken recycle bins placed curbside so that those bins can be collected and recycled. There is no charge for replacement or additional recycle bins.
Make Your Recycle Bin Request
Okay, you’ve done your part and put your recyclables in your orange and blue recycle bins. Now what? Where does that material go?
After leaving your home, all materials collected in your curbside recycling bins are delivered to Alachua County’s Material Recovery Facility, located off Waldo Road. At the Material Recovery Facility, contaminates (non-recyclable items) get sorted out, and then the material gets sorted into their primary groups, such as glass, steel cans, and cardboard. The separated materials then get baled and placed on trucks for shipment to secondary processors and manufacturers so they can be used to make new products.
While the end markets are subject to change, below is a list of where the various recycled materials go, and their end uses:
- Cardboard: Bales of recycled cardboard are sent to International Paper’s mill in Pine Hill, Alabama, or the WestRock’s Seminole Mill in Jacksonville, Florida, where the material is used as backing in the making of new cardboard boxes.
- Mixed Paper: Newspaper, pasteboard boxes, and other residential papers get shipped off to Greif’s Sweetwater Paper Board Corporation in Austell, Georgia. At this paper mill, the paper is reprocessed for protective packaging uses.
- Aluminum Cans: Get sent to the Constellium Aluminium Manufacturing plant in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, where they get smelted into sheets for the packaging industry to make new beverage containers.
- Steel Cans: Are sent off to Chicago, Illinois, where National Materials Processing melts down recycled steel containers to prepare the material for making new food cans, as well as rebar for construction projects.
- Plastic (PET): Recycled water bottles can go to Clear Path Recycling in Fayetteville, North Carolina, or Mohawk Industries in Summerville, Georgia. The recycled bottles are converted into plastic flakes that can be used to make new products, such as carpeting and clothing.
- Plastics (HDPE): Your natural and colored plastic containers get recycled at Blue Ridge Industries in Eden, North Carolina, where they are made into plastic flakes and pellets to manufacture pipes and plastic lumber. HDPE Plastics are also shipped to Unifi in Reidsville, North Carolina, where they are used to make new paint containers and molds for plastic toys and trash cans.
- Glass: Glass bottles are recycled at Strategic Materials Inc. in Sarasota, Florida, where they are reprocessed to make glass containers, fiberglass, highway bead, paint filters, glass abrasives, and specialty glass for decorations.
At first glance, recycling might not seem closely tied to global warming or climate change. However, recycling is one of the easiest, hands-on choices you can take to reduce your carbon footprint, preserve vital natural resources, and protect the health of humans, wildlife, and our planet.
Reducing Greenhouse Gases
Recycling saves energy resulting in fewer fossil fuels burned and significantly fewer greenhouse gases emitted into our atmosphere. The extraction and transport of virgin materials from forests, oil reserves, and mines is an energy-intensive operation. Processing recycled materials requires dramatically less energy and produces far fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Recycling also has the benefit of sending less trash to landfills, which reduces the opportunity for decomposition and the release of methane. Methane gas is 25 times more efficient at trapping heat than carbon dioxide and is a major factor impacting climate change. Additionally, recycling, especially paper materials, reduces the clear-cutting of forests in order to make new paper products. Trees capture and store large amounts of carbon dioxide (the most prevalent greenhouse gas), as well as convert carbon dioxide into oxygen.
Recycling reduces the strain on our natural resources, enables us to use resources more efficiently, and conserves materials for future generations. Nonrenewable resources (oil, metals, etc.) have a finite supply, and many renewable resources (wood, freshwater, etc.) are being exhausted faster than they can replenish. However, we continue to bury or burn more than two-thirds of our waste every day in the United States. By recycling materials, we can help to fill the constant demand for materials and prevent this depletion of our natural resources. In addition, recycling helps to protect natural resources locally by allowing communities to stretch the life of their current landfills and avoid using valuable land to build new landfills.
Recycling plays an integral part in helping to reduce air, water, and land pollution. Toxins entering our air and groundwater systems are greatly lessened because of the energy savings resulting from recycling and the recycling of many household hazardous waste. Recycling also benefits our oceans and beaches by repurposing plastic products into new materials. Estimates are that as much as eight million tons of plastic pollutants end up in our oceans each year. That’s equivalent to a full garbage truckload of plastics per minute dumped off a pier.
Understanding how recycling impacts climate change is a step towards creating your action plan to boost your recycling participation at home and work. Take a few moments to review Gainesville’s current list of accepted and not accepted materials for recycling(PDF, 2MB). Maximize your recycling efforts by finding out what recyclables are going into your trash and start recycling those materials from now on. Strive to eliminate contaminants from the materials you are setting out for recycling. When contaminants make their way into the recycling stream, it cost more to process materials, causes damage to expensive sorting equipment, and devalues the marketability of the recyclables.