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It's Global Recycling Day - But What Can You Recycle In Southern Nevada?

Nicolas Raymond/Flickr

  Global Recycling Day is March 18. 

But before you start picking through the trash to find recyclables, what exactly can be recycled in Southern Nevada?

Items like grease-covered pizza boxes can't be recycled, but you can cut off the top of a pizza box - if it doesn't have bits of food clinging to it - and recycle that. 

Also off-limits: Food scraps, batteries, yard clippings and electronics. 

You can recycle cardboard, glass - even colored wine bottles, paper and aluminum cans. Republic Services has created a detailed list of items that can be recycled. Jeremy Walters, community relations manager with Republic Services, said if it is not listed - don't put it in the bin. 

Items that have shown up at the recycling center that should NOT be there include bowling balls, engine blocks, hoses, safes, chains and scrap metal.

Tara Pike is the sustainability coordinator for UNLV. She said those items, which aren't just inconvenient but also potentially dangerous, should be taken to a scrap metal yard where you can actually get paid for them.

"There are roving scrap metal people," Pike said, "If you've ever seen the pickup truck just full of junk, those are people who are going around on bulk pick-up day and they're trying to find the scrap metal."

Pike suggested people put on Craigs List that they are leaving scrap metal on the curb and those looking for it will likely come and pick it up. 

Walters said it is called a "curb alert."

Besides large bulky items like scrap metal, Walters and Pike said people should not be putting light-weight plastics, like grocery store plastic bags or packaging materials, into the recycling bin. They can't be recycled, and they actually cause problems at the recycling center.

Walters said besides just causing problems for the recycling center the downside to just throwing something into the recycling bin in hopes it might be recycled is money.

"We don't fine anyone for the wrong things in the bin. We don't stop your service. There's nothing that comes along with that," he said, "There truly is no penalty for the consumer side of the recycling process really where the penalty falls is on us because that's additional costs that we have to derive at our facilities to handle or mitigate the contamination."

He said the incentive to keep recyclables clean is keeping costs low for trash service in Southern Nevada.

Both Pike and Walters said that when they talk about 'clean' recycling they are not referring to how well someone cleans out a peanut butter jar, but how well they keep items that can't be recycled out of the recycle bin.

Pike said just rinsing out glass and plastic containers is enough, and for those worried about using extra water, she noted that water that goes down the drain in Southern Nevada is recycled before it is returned to Lake Mead.


For more information: 

Republic Services Recycling - Southern Nevada

UNLV Recycling Drop-Off

Republic Services Recycling Drop-Off

E-Waste - Nevada Recycling

E-Waste - Nevada State Recycle

Electronics and Appliances - Best Buy

From NPR:  How Big Oil Misled The Public Into Believing Plastic Would Be Recycled


What Republic Services accepts:

Paper Recycling:

- Newspaper

- Envelopes

- Junk Mail

- Phone Books

- Brochures

- Magazines

Aluminum/Metal Recycling:

- Aluminum beverage cans

- Food cans

- Aluminum foil 

Cardboard Recycling:

- Ream wrappers

- File Folders

- Poster Board

- Frozen Food/Cereal boxes

- Cardboard boxes

Plastic Recycling:

- Water bottles

- Soda bottles

- Milk jugs

- Food containers

Glass Recycling:

- Glass bottles

- Glass jars

Not Acceptable:

- Grocery bags or light-weight, bendable plastics like dry cleaning bags

- Styrofoam containers/cups

- Food scraps

- Batteries

- Yard clippings

- Pizza boxes

- Wax-coated cardboard

- Electronics

Remember ---  Try to make sure the material is:

Empty - Clean - Dry


Keep It Loose


Jeremy Walters, community relations manager, Republic Services ;  Tara Pike, UNLV sustainability coordinator 

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Joe Schoenmann joined Nevada Public Radio in 2014. He works with a talented team of producers at State of Nevada who explore the casino industry, sports, politics, public health and everything in between.