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.

Smoke Detectors

Smoke Detectors


What should I do with an old smoke detector?
A smoke ionization detector can be returned to the manufacturer for proper disposal or you can legally dispose of it in the regular trash. 

Manufacturers of smoke detectors are mandated by the Nuclear Regulatory law 10 CFR 32.27 to see that the radioactive waste is disposed at a nuclear waste disposal facility.

When sending back a smoke detector, do not take it apart. Return the entire smoke detector by ground mail (not air mail). Before shipping, remove the batteries and place them in the trash. No special packaging is needed for your smoke detector. Just put it in a box, maybe with some newspaper for padding, and send it. You must call the company before sending.

 Kidde/Firex    (800) 880-6788
 First Alert/BRK 
 (800) 323-9005 ext. 2
 Honeywell    (800) 328-5111 ext. 4
 Sears  (617) 252-3500
 USI Electric/Universal  (800) 390-4321 ext. 238


If you are unable to return a smoke detector to the manufacturer, place it in the regular garbage for disposal. Smoke detectors are not accepted in the hazardous waste disposal program.

Flags

Flags


The U.S. flag, our national symbol, should not be placed in the regular rubbish. When a flag is so tattered that it no longer fits to serve as a symbol of the United States, it should be destroyed in a dignified manner. The American Legion, Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of the USA, National Sojourners, and other organizations regularly conduct dignified flag-burning ceremonies, often on Flag Day (June 14). You can also mail your tattered flag to a flag disposal organization, such as Flag Keepers.

For more information about care and treatment of the U.S. flag, read information on the United States Flag Code.

Mattresses

Mattresses


Currently, there are no local recycling options for mattresses. Sometimes mattresses can be donated if they are in good condition. The Cleveland Furniture Bank will accept good, used mattresses for reuse. Call (216) 459-2265.

If the mattress cannot be reused, contact your city service department about bulky waste pick-up or take the mattress to a waste transfer station for disposal. They will likely require you to wrap the mattress in plastic.

Cups (Plastic and Paper)

Cups (Plastic and Paper)


Can I recycle my coffee cup, red plastic cup or other party cup?

Sorry, those disposable paper and plastic beverage cups cannot be recycled with your home recycling. Do not place them in with curbside or drop-off recycling. The rigid thermoform plastics are brittle and break apart while moving through the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF or recycling plant). The loose pieces end up mixed into the good, recyclable glass and paper in the plant. Make sure the red plastic party cups (and all other colors) make it into the trash instead.

If you don't want to throw cups in the trash, take advantage of a mail-back recycling program. TerraCycle offers national programs (Brigades®) to collect previously non-recyclable or hard to recycle waste. The company offers a collection program for rigid plastic cups. Most of the TerraCycle's Brigades offer free shipping as well as a rebate or donation for each piece that you collect. Learn more about TerraCycle's Brigade programs.

Want to know more about the types of plastic that should (and shouldn't) be included in with recycling? Visit our page about plastic.

Learn more about party and event recycling.

Need more details about recycling in Cuyahoga County? See our Recycling FAQs.

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.
 

Packing Peanuts

Packing Peanuts


Styrofoam is a trade name for expanded polystyrene (EPS). Styrofoam is hard to recycle because it takes up so much space relative to its weight, so shipping it to a recycler does not provide much return on investment.

There are no recycling programs for Styrofoam peanuts. Consider reuse instead.

Styrofoam peanuts can be donated to a store that ships packages like The UPS Store (800/789-4623) or you can reuse it as your own packing material. Northcoast Recycling at 1305 Lloyd Road in Wickliffe (440/943-6968) accepts Styrofoam peanuts. 

See more about Styrofoam Blocks and Styrofoam Containers.

Are you a business? Extreme Green Recycling at 1321 Lloyd Road in Wickliffe (440/487-3030) picks up different grades of non-food Styrofoam from businesses. The material is densified into Styrofoam bricks and sold to manufacturers to be made into insulation, picture frames, or crown molding. They also make Styrofoam beads that are sold to a local stuffed toy manufacturer. See a list in our Business Recycling Directory.

Pens

Pens


Can I recycle used-up pens?
TerraCycle offers national programs (Brigades®) to collect previously non-recyclable or hard to recycle waste including writing instruments. 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).

Phone Books

Phone Books


Recycle phone books in curbside or drop-off recycling with other mixed paper products including newspaper, cardboard, boxboard, junk mail and magazines. See details about community recycling programs in Cuyahoga County.

Phone books can also be recycled at a local Paper Retriever bin or
River Valley Paper Company recycling bin. Typically, these mixed paper drop-off bins can be found in school or church parking lots.

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. 

Tape Dispensers

Tape Dispensers


Can I recycle tape dispensers?
TerraCycle offers national programs (Brigades®) to collect previously non-recyclable or hard to recycle waste including Scotch tape dispensers. 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

Tires

Tires


When you buy new tires, dispose of your old tires through your tire retailer at the time of purchase. There is a small fee charged for tire disposal, which is a tax used for transporting and disposing of tires through state licensed facilities. If you already have tires at home, contact one of the following store chains who provide tire disposal for non-customers. These include Conrad’s Tire Express, Firestone Auto Care, and National Tire and Battery.

Some city service departments provide scrap tire collection. Check with your city service department.

In the State of Ohio, you must be licensed to haul more than 10 tires at a time. If you have more than 10 tires, or have a large tire pile to be cleaned up, call Liberty Tire (330.868.0097), TIMCO, LLC Recycling Division (330.523.6048) or US Tire Transportation (216.441.0950).

Businesses and organizations with tires must contact a licensed tire hauler for disposal service. See a list in our Business Recycling Directory.

Need to report an illegal tire dump? Did you see illegal dumping in Cleveland or a Cuyahoga County suburb? Call the Illegal Dumping Hotline at 216.664.DUMP.

Appliances

Appliances


Appliances can be set out for recycling on your city's scheduled bulky waste collection day. Some communities require you to have the Freon removed from refrigerators, air conditioners and dehumidifiers prior to pick-up.

Find a qualified HVAC technician to remove the Freon at www.yellowpages.com or check with your city service department for a list of contractors and more information. Find details for your community.

First Energy has reintroduced their rebate recycling program. Customers can now earn $50 for recycling refrigerators, freezers and A/C units. See details about First Energy's Appliance Turn-In Program.

Appliances can also be recycled at local scrap yards.

Small, non-working household appliances can be recycled at the Solid Waste District located at 4750 East 131 Street in Garfield Heights. The small appliances must be clean and under 20 lbs. Drop off items in the District’s lobby during business hours - Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. See more details. 

Best Buy also accepts some small appliances for free recycling. See a list of items.

Good, working appliances can be donated to local community service organizations that use the items to support their work. See a list of donation opportunities below.

Bicycles

Bicycles


The Ohio City Bicycle Co-op accepts donations of bicycles and any bike-related item including biking equipment, tools, clip-in pedals, shoes, and good seats. The co-op is located in Cleveland on the West Bank of the Flats. Call 216.830.2667 or visit www.ohiocitycycles.org.

Consider donating your good, used bicycle to another charity or shelter that sells or reuses goods to assist their residents. See the list of options below or request a copy of our book Pass It On: A Resource-Full Guide to Donating Usable Stuff.

Books

Books


General interest books can be donated to local libraries, schools and community centers.

Text books and other hard cover and soft cover books can be recycled at All Ohio Secure Shred (888/747-3394), Caraustar Recycling (216/961-5060) and at the paper drop off locations operated by Paper Retriever or River Valley Paper. See a list of book recyclers in our Business Recycling Directory.

See the list below for donation options or request a copy of our book Pass it On: A Resource-Full Guide to Donating Usable Stuff. 

Campaign Signs

Campaign Signs


Celebrate your candidates’ wins or cry over their losses! Either way, following the spring primary and fall general elections, you can recycle your campaign election yard signs – plastic and cardboard signs plus the metal stands – at the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District lobby at 4750 East 131st Street in Garfield Heights. Hours are Mon.-Fri. from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 
 
The signs we collect are recycled by Northcoast Recycling Specialists in Wickliffe.
 
The District has been collecting campaign signs since the 2012 general election. Your community may also collect campaign signs for recycling. Find details for your community​.

Car Seats

Car Seats


Can I recycle an infant or child car seat?
University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital Injury Prevention Center offers a car seat recycling program. The children's hospital has locations throughout Cuyahoga County to donate usable car seats and recycle damaged or unsafe car seats.

Car seats less than 3 years old (and with a signed waiver) are cleaned and reused. Car seats older then three years are recycled. For a list of locations, call Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital Injury Prevention Center at 216.844.2277 or visit their website.

Clothing

Clothing


Do not include clothing and fabric in your curbside recycling. Donate usable clothing, fabric and other textiles to a charitable organization. See the list below or request a copy of our book Pass It On: A Resource-Full Guide to Donating Usable Stuff. You can also drop off clothing at one of the boxes or stores located throughout Cuyahoga County that are operated by local charities. 

H&M has a garment-recycling initiative that allows customers to exchange any used garments, from any brand, in any condition, at every H&M store. For each bag of clothing donated, customers will receive a voucher worth 15% off of their next purchased item.

Simple Recycling accepts textiles and cloth for recycling, including unusable clothing. Call (866) 835-5068. 

Computers & Electronics

Computers & Electronics


Computers and electronics can be recycled, but not in your curbside recycling. Most contain valuable metals that can be recovered through recycling. Types of equipment that can be recycled include desktops, towers, laptops, monitors, keyboards and peripherals, printers, modems, tablets, e-readers, telecom devices, networking equipment, cables, cell phones and video game systems.

Residents can recycle unwanted computer equipment and peripherals at their city service department throughout the year. See more about recycling computer equipment in your community

Electronics can also be recycled through local e-waste companies and at some retail locations.
Best Buy and Staples allow customers to drop-off items in store. Small personal electronics can be dropped off for recycling at the Solid Waste District.

Televisions can be recycled locally for a fee. Learn more about Televisions.

Are you a business? Businesses can see a list of computer and e-waste recyclers in our Business Recycling Directory.

The locations listed below accept donations of good, working, usable electronics to maintain their facilities or help the organization's mission.

Drink Pouches
Holiday Lights

Holiday Lights


Do not place holiday lights (tanglers) in your curbside recycling. Tanglers, including holiday lights and power cords, cannot be recycled in your home recycling bin and will cause problems and shut-downs at the local recycling facility.

Recycle your broken, burned out strings of lights, power strips and power cords during the District's holiday lights recycling program. The Solid Waste District accepts strands of lights (holiday lights and other strands) at its facility located at 4750 East 131 Street in Garfield Heights. Drop off in our lobby during business hours M-F 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

The recycling program runs December 1-January 15. No bags or boxes in the recycling bin, please. Plan on taking any bags, boxes and containers home with you. Artificial trees are not accepted. Materials collected are recycled by a local Cleveland company.

Some city service departments accept holiday lights from residents in the winter months. Find details for your community.

Retailers including Home Depot, Lowe's Home Improvement and Walmart may have collection bins for holiday lights. Check at your local store. Christmas Light Source and HolidayLEDs also offer recycling and rebate programs for strings of lights.

Paper Shredding Services

Paper Shredding Services


Private companies, including UPS stores, offer document shredding to residents and businesses for a fee.

On the first Saturday of each month, SHRED-IT offers general document shredding from 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. The cost of this service is $4.00 per box. SHRED-IT is located at 5480 Cloverleaf Parkway #7 in Cleveland. Drop-off service by appointment only. For more information, call (216) 642-1680 or (888) 750-6450.

Free seasonal shredding events are often hosted by local communities for their residents. Call your city hall or find details for your community​.

The City of Cleveland offers free, year-round document shredding at their service garage located at 5600 Carnegie Avenue. Hours are Monday-Friday from 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. Call (216) 664-3717 for more information.

Televisions

Televisions


In Ohio, there is not a ban on placing televisions and electronics in the regular trash but recycling options do exist.

Best Buy stores will recycle tube TVs (up to 32”), flat panel TVs (LCD, plasma, LED, smaller than 50") and portable TVs for a $25 fee per item. Many other types of electronics equipment are free. There is a limit of three TVs per household per day. Visit www.bestbuy.com/recycling.

E-Waste LLC is located in Hudson, call 330.650.0274. This company charges a fee based on the size of the television.

Businesses with TVs or other electronics can recycle the items via local specialized companies. See a list in our Business Recycling Directory.

Trash Disposal

Trash Disposal


I have large amounts of garbage to dispose of and I can't put it at the curb. What do I do?

There are no operating landfills in Cuyahoga County. If you have excess debris, contact your city service department (see more information) about bulk waste pick-up in your community.

Several private companies will provide dumpsters or containers for large clean outs or you can deliver waste to a solid waste transfer station for a fee. See our list of waste transfer stations (click here).

If you hire a rubbish removal company be sure to ask where the waste will be disposed and request dump tickets to make sure the waste was properly disposed at a landfill or transfer station rather than illegally dumped.