Recycling Guidelines

It’s easier than ever to recycle right! If the information on this page doesn’t answer your questions, please call 231-943-8088, email us, Chat Live with our staff or visit the Recycling Resources page. We also encourage you to enroll in our free Recycling University—take a behind-the-scenes tour of our Traverse City recycling facility, the largest in Michigan north of Grand Rapids.


  • Dry

  • Clean—give them a quick rinse

  • Empty—do not place one recyclable inside another, they need to be separate in order to go through the sorting process correctly

  • Loose—do not put recyclables in bags, place them loose inside the recycling bin

  • Food-Free—remove ALL food

  • Caps On—labels are okay, too

👍 Materials WE RECYCLE

  • Aerosol Cans—must be empty

  • Aseptic Cartons—liquid food packaging

  • Bulky Plastic & Toys—kids toys, garden plastics, baskets, pails, buckets

  • Cardboard—flattened and dry

  • Cartons—milk, juice, soy, drink boxes

  • Freezer Paperboard—ice cream and frozen-food containers

  • Glass Containers—all colors

  • Metal & Aluminum—cans, foil, trays

  • Paper—newspaper, office paper, magazines, phone books, brown paper bags

  • Pizza Boxes—no pizza! cut out the greasy circle if you can

  • Plastic Containers—all types, even unmarked, clam shell containers

  • Plastic Film—grocery bags, bread bags, kitchen shrink wrap, Visqueen

  • Scrap Metal

  • Small Appliances—including toaster ovens

  • Styrofoam—like egg cartons


We cannot accept the following materials, and some items like lithium batteries are dangerous to the recycling facility and our employees. In Grand Traverse County, visit RecycleSmart for locations that accept these materials, or check the Michigan Recycling Directory.

  • Batteries—batteries of all types are not accepted; lithium batteries are extremely dangerous in recycling centers and recycling and garbage trucks

  • CDs & DVDs

  • Chain, Hoses, Rope, Tarps—even though they may be made of metal or other recyclable materials, long items like chains and hoses wrap around our metering bin and shut down the entire facility until someone crawls in and pulls them out!

  • Diapers—diapers are not recyclable

  • Fluids—fluids are not accepted, including automotive and cleaning

  • Foamed Products—packing peanuts, molded styrofoam, foam wrap

  • Glass—mirrors, tv/monitor glass, window glass

  • Light Bulbs—fluorescent, tubes, CFLs, LEDs, any type

  • Hazardous Waste & Solvents

  • Marine Shrink Wrap

  • Medications

  • Paint—latex and oil-based paints and stains

  • Sharps Disposables


Recycling right helps keep Northern Michigan green and provides Michigan manufacturers and mills with the high-quality recycled materials they need to make recycled products. We welcome you to take a behind-the-scenes tour of our recycling facility and learn everything there is to know about recycling in our area, including:

Small Items Don’t Make It

Our system shakes out items 2” or smaller, so things like dental picks that are smaller than a credit card have to go in the trash bin.

Know It Before You Throw It

Learn about Wishful Recycling, and why the saying goes: When in doubt, throw it out.