Paper & Boxes

Paper & Boxes


Paper is the most recycled material in the U.S. In Cuyahoga County, you can include these types of paper in your curbside recycling:

Newspapers and inserts
Magazines and catalogs
Junk mail and envelopes (window envelopes are okay)
Postcards, greeting cards, coupon packets
Phone books
Paper grocery bags
Cereal and dry food boxes, shoe boxes, tooth paste or OTC medicine boxes
Paper tubes, tissue boxes (toilet paper, paper towels)
Office paper stationary, business cards, any color
Hard (cover removed) or soft cover books
Wrapping paper (including the cardboard tube)
Cardboard (flattened)
Paper shopping bags
Clean pizza boxes (free of excess food and grease)
Paper egg cartons


Do not place shredded paper in your curbside recycling. Instead, take your shredded paper to one of the Paper Retriever or River Valley paper drop off recycling bins located in the parking lots of schools and churches. Use a brown Kraft bag to hold your paper recycling.

Businesses with large quantities of mixed paper can contact local paper recycling companies for service information. See a list in our Business Recycling Directory.

Paper and boxes can be donated to local community service organizations that use the materials to support their work. See a list of donation opportunities below. 

Plastic Bottles & Containers

Plastic Bottles & Containers


Can all plastics be recycled? Which ones go in Cuyahoga County's recycling?
Any plastic bottle, jar, jug or tub can be placed in your curbside recycling. Recycle plastic food and beverage bottles, cosmetics and personal products, and laundry detergent and bleach bottles. Containers should be emptied and rinsed. Replace the cap and put in your curbside recycling.

Why do plastics have numbers inside recycling symbols if they’re not recyclable?
The numbers on plastic containers are resin codes used by the plastics industry to identify the type of plastic used to make the container. Not all plastics with the 1-7 symbol are recyclable. See the chart below.



Details for the don'ts

  • Plastic bags. Bags wrap around the gears, wheels, and machinery at the recycling plant which clogs up the separation process and eventually shuts down the plant. Think of it like an item getting caught in the beater brush of your household vacuum.
  • Plastic, single-use cups. These thermoform plastics are brittle and break apart while moving through the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF or recycling plant). The loose pieces will end up mixed into the glass and paper in the plant.
  • Berry or produce containers. These thermoform plastics are brittle and break apart while moving through the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF or recycling plant). The loose pieces will end up mixed into the glass and paper in the plant.
  • Plastic blister packaging. These thermoform plastics are brittle and break apart while moving through the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF or recycling plant). The loose pieces will end up mixed into the glass and paper in the plant.
  • Styrofoam packaging, cups and food containers. This plastic has been expanded with air and is very fragile. It breaks apart into tiny pieces during the sorting process.
  • Plastic utensils and hangers. 

Businesses can recycle industrial plastics via local specialized companies. See a list in our Business Recycling Directory.

Cans

Cans


All metal food and beverage cans such as pop, beer, soup, vegetable, and tuna can be recycled in your community's recycling program. Cans should be emptied, rinsed, and then recycled.

Cans are made from either steel or aluminum. Aluminum cans you put in your curbside recycling are processed and turned back in to new cans and foil that you’ll see on store shelves. Steel cans are recycled into new cans, car parts, and even bridges.

Aluminum beverage cans may be turned in for cash at a local scrap yard. Also, some area fire stations collect cans to benefit the Aluminum Cans for Burned Children program. Check with your local fire station or find details for your community​.
 

Do not include scrap metal, car parts, wire and cord, or other metal objects in your curbside recycling. These metal objects are dangerous for the workers and the sorting machinery at the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF or recycling plant). Take the items to a local scrap yard.

Are you a business? See our Business Recycling Directory.

Cartons

Cartons


Recycle through your curbside recycling program. Cartons, the packaging for food and beverage products you purchase at the grocery store can now be recycled through your community's curbside recycling program. Includes milk, juice, soup and broth plus wine cartons. Cartons should be emptied and rinsed. Replace the cap and place in your curbside recycling.

Cartons are newer to the recycling mix and refers to a type of packaging for food and beverage products you purchase at the grocery store. They are easy to recognize and available in two types—shelf-stable and refrigerated. Shelf-stable cartons, which can be found on shelves in grocery stores, contain juice, milk, soy milk, soup and broth, and wine. Refrigerated cartons include milk, juice, cream, and egg substitutes. These cartons can be found in the chilled sections of grocery stores. Before recycle, empty, rinse and replace the cap.

Cartons are mainly made from paper in the form of paperboard, as well as thin layers of polyethylene (plastic) and/or aluminum. Shelf-stable cartons contain on average 74% paper, 22% polyethylene and 4% aluminum. Refrigerated cartons contain about 80% paper and 20% polyethylene. What you may see as wax on a carton is actually a thin layer of polyethylene (plastic). Cartons are not difficult to recycle as long as the right systems are in place to do so.

The paper fiber contained in cartons is extremely valuable and useful to make new products. The area of the country you live in (and the local mill) determines what your cartons will become Some mills recycle cartons into tissues, while others use the paper fibers to make office paper. In some cases, they are even being used as one of the materials for wall boards manufacturing. By recycling, your cartons are put back in business as the items you use every day!

Visit the Carton Council for more information  

Glass

Glass


Recyclable glass refers to food and beverage bottles and jars of any color. Glass bottles and jars should be emptied and rinsed. Replace the lid and put in your curbside recycling. You do not need to remove the label.

Not all glass can be recycled. The following glass items should not be placed into your curbside recycling:

  • NO Glass contaminated with stones, dirt, and food waste
  • NO Ceramics, such as dishware, ovenware, and decorative items
  • NO Heat-resistant glass, such as Pyrex
  • NO Mirror or window glass
  • NO Metal or plastic caps and lids
  • NO Crystal
  • NO Light bulbs
  • NO Cathode-ray tubes (CRTs) found in some televisions and computer monitors

New glass objects are easier to make from recycled bottles than from the raw materials. When you recycle glass, it’s reused to make new bottles and fiberglass that are used every day.

Businesses with glass can recycle it via local specialized companies. See a list in our Business Recycling Directory.

Medications

Medications


The Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Office provides an ongoing disposal option for meds. The Sheriff's RX Drug Drop Box Program allows residents to deposit unused, unwanted or expired prescription drugs at drop boxes in participating law enforcement agencies across Cuyahoga County. To find a drop off location visit www.RXdrugdropbox.com or call 2-1-1.

Liquid medications cannot be disposed of via the Drop Box program at local law enforcement agencies. Do not flush them into our sewer system or waterways. Properly dispose of liquid medication by mixing with something like coffee grounds, cat litter or sawdust to make it undesirable or unusable. Once the liquid is in unusable state, place it in the regular trash.

Walgreens offers the Safe Medication Disposal Program. Drop-box receptacles at three local Walgreens pharmacies are available during regular pharmacy hours. Locations in Cuyahoga County include:

6410 Broadway Avenue, Cleveland
22401 Lake Shore Boulevard, Euclid
5400 Pearl Road, Parma

Needles are not accepted in the Drop Box. For proper disposal information, see Needles and Sharps.

Tanglers

Tanglers


Tanglers are things like bags, films, ropes, cords, hoses, light strands and wires that jam sorting machinery by wrapping around the equipment discs and wheels. This creates problems and can shut down an entire Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs) or recycling plant that sorts recyclables. Do not put these tanglers in your curbside recycling. Some of these items can be recycled elsewhere. Plastic bags and film can be recycled at many retail locations while light strands and cords can be recycled at the Solid Waste District located at 4750 East 131 Street in Garfield Heights. Drop off during business hours M-F 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Latex Paint

Latex Paint


The District and city service departments do not accept latex paint as household hazardous waste because it is not a hazardous material. Latex paint is 99% water and 1% rubber, and is safe to dispose with your household trash when it is dried out. Here are step-by-step instructions for disposing of latex paint.

To solidify latex paint
*
Air dry. Remove the lid and allow the liquid to evaporate. This works well for small quantities of paint (an inch or two in the bottom of the can), and can take several days.
* Use a drying agent. Mix an equal amount of an absorbent material into the can and allow the paint to dry. Use cat litter, sawdust, plaster of Paris, Oil-dry, or “waste paint hardeners” found at home improvement centers. The paint could dry quickly, depending on how much drying agent you include in the can.
* Pour thin layers (about 1" of paint) into a cardboard box lined with plastic. Allow the paint to dry one layer at a time until all paint has hardened.
* Once the paint is thoroughly dry, place it in a regular trash bag and put it out with your weekly rubbish collection.

DO NOT
* DO NOT dump the paint on the ground or down storm drains where it will travel directly to surface and/or ground water.
* DO NOT pour paint down the drain. While small amounts of latex paint can safely be washed down the drain to a septic system or wastewater treatment plant, this practice should be kept to a minimum. Limit this to brush cleaning and other clean-up.
* DO NOT throw liquid paint in the regular trash. Leaking paint spills out of waste collection vehicles onto city streets making an unsightly mess that is very difficult to clean up.

Tips
* Buy the correct amount of paint for your project. Determine how much paint you’ll need via a paint calculator offered by your local home improvement or decorating store website, or use a mobile app.
* Not sure if you’ll like a color? Use paint swatches first or purchase a sample size.
* Be creative and use up any paint that you have left over. Paint a birdhouse, a garage wall, or outdoor furniture.

Donate
Donate large quantities of good, usable latex paint to a local theater group, development corporation, or neighborhood improvement project. Make sure the paint is not contaminated with particulates, and it should not have gone through a freeze-thaw cycle. See the list below. Call ahead first to make sure that your donation will be accepted.

Needles and Sharps

Needles and Sharps


Check with your health care provider or health care facility to see if they have a take-back program for needles. If not, used needles and syringes from self-injections may be placed in the regular trash if certain precautions are followed. The precautions are designed to protect sanitation workers and other workers in the waste industry from being stuck by a needle.

  • Place used needles and syringes in a rigid plastic container with a sealable lid such as a Sharps container or a plastic laundry detergent bottle with a screw top.
  • Seal the lid with tape.
  • Write "Caution: Sharps" on the container.
  • Place the container in your regular trash.
  • Do not place the container in with your recyclables.

The Ohio EPA has a guidance document for Disposal of Household Generated Sharps (Feb. 2013) (view pdf).

Learn how to dispose of Medications. 

 

Cups (Plastic and Paper)

Cups (Plastic and Paper)


Can I recycle my coffee cup, red Solo™ cup or other party cup?
Sorry, those disposable paper and plastic cups cannot be recycled. Do not place them in with recycling. These thermoform plastics are brittle and break apart while moving through the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF or recycling plant). The loose pieces will end up mixed into the glass and paper in the plant. Make sure the red plastic cups (and all other colors) make it into the trash instead.

TerraCycle offers national programs (Brigades®) to collect previously non-recyclable or hard to recycle waste including disposable plastic cups. While some programs have a cost, most of the Brigades offer free shipping as well as a rebate or donation for each piece that you collect.

Find out more about how the Brigade programs work (visit website)

Styrofoam™ Containers

Styrofoam™ Containers


Food grade Styrofoam "clamshell" containers, cups, and trays cannot be recycled in Northeast Ohio. Cleveland-area Heinen's grocery stores discontinued the collection of Styrofoam food trays for recycling and they are no longer accepted at their stores. Styrofoam “clamshell” containers, cups, and trays should be disposed of in the regular trash. Do not place these in your curbside recycling.

Learn more about Styrofoam Blocks and Packing Peanuts.

Are you a business? Businesses, restaurants and the food industry have limited recycling options for Styrofoam food trays, containers and cups. See a list in our Business Recycling Directory.
 

Plastic Bags

Plastic Bags


Plastic bags can be recycled at many retail locations, including Buehler's Fresh Foods, Giant Eagle, Heinen's, JCPenney, Kohl's, Lowe's Home Improvement, Marc's, Target, and Wal-Mart stores. A collection bin can usually be found near the store entrance or the customer service desk. At the retail locations, recycle only clean, dry plastic bags and film. Remove receipts or any other items from bags.

In the retailer collection bin, recycle: 
Retail, newspaper, dry cleaning, bread, produce, and other plastic bags labeled #2 and #4
Zip Close Food Storage bags (clean and dry)
Furniture and Electronic wrap
Plastic cereal box liners
Plastic shipping envelopes, including Tyvek ®, bubble wrap and air pillows (Remove labels and/or deflate)
Product Wrap (used on paper towels, diapers, bathroom tissue, water bottles)
Any film packaging or bag that has the How2Recycle Label

Plastic bags are recycled into many different products. Most bags and film are turned into composite lumber, but they can be reprocessed into small pellets or post consumer resin, which can be used to make a variety of new products, such as new bags, pallets, containers, crates, and pipe.

For details and a location search, visit www.plasticfilmrecycling.org 

Shredded Paper

Shredded Paper


Shredded paper should not be placed in your curbside recycling because the shreds are too small to be sorted at the Materials Recovery Facility (recycling plant) that receives your recyclables.

Instead, please place shredded paper in paper bags and recycle at a Paper Retriever or River Valley paper drop off location. These are large green and yellow public recycling containers usually located in the parking lots of schools, places of worship and community centers.