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Not sure what is accepted as recycling in Erie County?

There has been some upheavel in recycling on a national level since early 2018, which is impacting local recycling programs. Check out these stories: New York Times or FiveThirtyEight.  

At this time, most recycling programs in Erie County accept the 9 items shown below. It can be a bit confusing, as some of the changes to recycling programs will be based on what company is collecting and processing your recyclable materials. The items list as not accepted are some of those items that will depend on where you live, but be aware that most of them will be eventually phased out of recycling programs, no matter where you live. 

Some items that have been accepted as recyclable in the past that will or already have been phased out of recycling programs include: glass bottles and jars, plastics 3-7, shredded paper, envelopes, and any postcards or small papers. 

Always check with your municipality or recycling collection company to verify if a material is accepted or not. 

What Should Go in Your Recycling Bin

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Items of Concern:

Plastic Bags
Plastic Bags, although used for many years to collect recyclable materials, are currently creating more problems during the sorting process. Plastic bags must be opened in order to sort the recyclable materials inside, and if not removed from the sorting process can get stuck in the sorting equipment. See a short video here. Material for recycling should be placed loose in recycling bins or toters. The City of Erie and Wesleyville Borough still use a bag collection system for their residents. 

Glass, due to its weight, and how easily contaminated it can become in the single stream recycling process, has increased the cost to recycle glass bottles and jars. Due to the high cost, there are few, if any, outlets for recycled glass. Therefore most recycling programs will phase out glass as an acceptable material, if they haven't already. Learn more. 

Plastics, in general
Not all plastics are recyclable; just because it has a "recycling" symbol on the bottom with a number does not automatically mean it is recyclable in your area or your program. Wishful Recycling basically means hoping something it recyclable by including it your collection system, without actually knowing if it is acceptable or not. Due to a high percentage of plastics being included in recycling containers with the hope that it can be recycled, high levels of contamination or non-recyclable materials have made their way into the recycling sorting facilities. Any material that isn't able to be recycled is more likely causing issues with other recyclable materials in the sort process, or separated as trash or residue and sent to a landfill. Instead, we encourage only recycling what is noted as being accepted in your program or area. So, When in Doubt, Throw it Out. A cleaner recycling stream keeps processing costs down for recycling services, as well as ensures a better recycling product to be marketed. 


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