Participating in recycling is an admiration globally, but only if we are properly reusing and reducing our waste. Once our recycling is taken from our homes, it heads to the MRF (Materials Recovery Facility), where they begin to sort our items. In this facility, they determine what can be reused, and what must be trashed. There are standards for what we recycle, that must be met, in order for them to not be considered waste. Food contamination is one major source which leads our recyclables to landfills, we must ensure our recyclables are being washed out before entering our bins, otherwise they are unacceptable. If you are unsure if an item can be recycled, the best decision is to leave it out, as this saves the facility time while sorting. More time wasted at the MRF also includes de-tangling items, such as plastic bags, cords, and chains from the sorting machines, which is why these items are not allowed in our typical bins. If an item cannot be put in your standard recycling bin, there may still be hope it can be recycled! There are plenty of waste baler machines for sale in the States. The government hopes this increase in machines will encourage recycling nationally.

STICK WITH THE 6:                                                         

  • Paper (newspaper, magazines, phone books, junk mail)
  • Flattened cardboard
  • Plastic bottles/containers
  • Glass bottle/jars
  • Metal food / Beverage cans (aluminum, scrap metal)
  • Food/Beverage cartons (broth, milk, etc.)


  • Styrofoam
  • Large items (Items must be smaller than a 5-gallon bucket for standard pick-up)
  • Tanglers (hoses, wires, string lights)
  • Diapers
  • Sharps (Needles of any kind!)
  • Electronics (batteries)
  • Plastic bags
  • Paint (hazardous waste)


  • Keep lids on recycling bins, as rainwater can contaminate some items
  • No pyrex, ceramic, mirrors, or windows
  • Nothing to small (single use items)

Other recyclables such as E-WASTE, including decorative (Christmas) lights, charging cables, and lightbulbs can be recycled through programs within the city. Madison County can take electrical waste here:

  • CJD E-Cycling, will accept most electronics, including TVs 5257 IL State Route 157, Edwardsville, IL; Phone: 618-659-9006
  • CJD E-Store, 513 E. St. Louis Ave., East Alton, IL; Phone: 618-251-8086
  • Empowering Technologies – 200 2nd Ave., Edwardsville
  • Metro East Recycling – 9200 Collinsville Rd., Collinsville; 116 State St., Madison
  • Somtech E-Cycling – 415 Ridge St., Alton



  • Local Goodwills’ accepts clothing donations, as well as recycles textiles they cannot use.
  • Remains INC. in STL, recycles textiles, and will accept almost ALL clothing
    • Address: 3340 Morganford Rd, St. Louis, MO 63116
    • Hours: MON-FRI 8AM-4:30PM
    • Phone: (314) 865-0303

For more information on random recyclables, visit the link below:

This blog was created with the help of Republic Services:

While this blog is focused on recycling in the St. Louis region, similar standards and facilities for recycling are common in most communities.

Comment below if you can think of any in your local community!

-Kristen Mertz, Outreach Assisstant. (Alton, IL)