Welcome to the PRC Recycling Guide, where you can learn about recycling and recycling best practices.
Please note that this information is based on PRC’s extensive technical expertise in the recycling industry and is not based solely on City of Pittsburgh policy and recycling guidelines. Official City of Pittsburgh Policy on plastic recycling remains that plastic bottles, jars, and jugs (number 1-5 and 7) can be placed in curbside recycling. Find more information this clarification at the bottom of this page.
- Place CLEAN and DRY materials un-bagged into a blue recycling bin.
- Set materials on the curb, separate from your trash, between 6 pm the day before collection and 6 am the morning of collection.
- Protect your recycling and trash haulers! Never put broken glass or other sharps in recycling. Instead, surround or wrap the sharp object in softer trash.
- If you keep your bin outside, keep the lid on until it’s time for your hauler to pick it up. The lid protects your recyclables from both the weather and curious vermin. The recycling haulers work very quickly, and your lid may go flying and or be misplaced.
- When in doubt, ask PRC!
- Office Paper
- Magazines and catalogs
- Hard and soft cover books
- Junk mail
- Anything covered in grease or food
- Lottery scratch off tickets
- Disposable paper cups that have a wax coating on the inside
- This includes most coffee cups
- Paper plates
- Milk/orange juice cartons
- Shopping receipts
- Plastic Bottles, jars, and jugs numbers 1 & 2
- Keep your bottle caps and other screw on lids on the container. Otherwise the lids are too small and won’t be recycled
- Plastic clamshell containers 1 & 2
- All Plastic 3-7 or unnumbered plastics
- Plastic utensils or straws
- Bottle caps without the bottle
- Plastic furniture or toys
- All snap-on lids.
* Why are plastics 1 & 2 the only plastics being recycled? – Plastic markets are increasingly demanding better quality material. With no market for higher numbered plastics, Material Recover Facilities (MRFs) can only accept the plastics that they are able to sell. For more information on the recycling crisis click here.
- Beverage Cans
- Food Cans
- This includes pet food cans
- Aerosol Cans
- Make sure to completely empty it first.
- Metal clothing hangers
- The can get tangled in the machinery
- Wine Bottles
- Beer and juice bottles
- You can leave the label on and include the bottle cap
- Food jars
* What makes some glass different form other glass? – Glass that has been heat treat, such as windows and dinnerware melts at a much high temperature than glass used for food and beverage storage. At the recycling facility, glass is melted at the right temperature for glass that is not heat treated. Any glass that doesn’t melt is a contaminate and will lower the quality of the end product.
- All Cardboard
- Clean and Dry
- Greasy pizza boxes or any wet/soiled cardboard
- If the bottom of a pizza box is soiled, but the top looks good, you can cut off the bottom and still recycle to top part!
Recyclable at Specific Events or Locations:
- Household Chemical Waste
- Automotive oil & fluids
- Household cleaners
- Much more!
- Most lightbulbs
- small aplanices
- Nearly anything that plugs in
- Plastic Film
- Click the link above to learn about facilities that take CLEAN polystyrene (Styrofoam) with the #6 recycling symbol.
- Yard Waste and Tires
- To find drop off centers for your non-curbside recyclables, call the DEP Recycling Hotline at 1-800-346-4242
Never Goes in Curbside Recycling:
- Plastic bags or film
- Food or organic matter
- Electronic Devices
- Broken Glass
- Polyurethane (couch stuffing)
Curious about something not covered here? Us the form below to send your recycling questions to our team!
Most Recyclable Materials
PRC constantly analyzes policies and markets to ensure that we understand the best practices regarding recycling and so we are able to support the most vibrant and responsible waste diversion system possible in Pennsylvania.
Recycling Facilities (known as Materials Recover Facilities or MRFs) separate materials into discreet bales of recyclable commodities (like cardboard, paper, aluminum, etc.) These bales are then sold to buyers who eventually remanufacture or recycle these commodities into new products/materials. Recently, domestic and international buyers of these commodities have demanded higher quality material and are allowing ever lower contamination levels. With this refocus on quality standards, MRFs are having a more difficult time finding economically viable markets to consume the materials. To overcome this challenge, MRFs are beginning to focus on a core group of consistently recyclable and marketable materials.
This update in the recycling market is what guides PRC’s communication at Recycling Bin Distribution Events and beyond. In fact, it is this very approach which has led to the bin distribution program itself; an effort to improve the quality of Pittsburgh’s recycling by removing the plastic bags from the system. It is also important to note that the challenge is not just in the marketability of a particular material but may also include that materials impact on the quality of what are otherwise highly valuable materials.
PRC therefore asks residents to focus on recycling the materials which are supported by clear market demand. We know that Pittsburgh residents, especially those like yourself who self-select to receive a recycling bin, are committed to recycling. To honor that commitment, we want to give you the most current information for which materials are in demand now and are expected to be into the future. We further desire to help you increase the volume of materials not only being collected for recycling but being processed and sold in environmentally responsible end markets.
If you would like to learn more about the evolving market conditions impacting recycling here in Pittsburgh and across the US please see this recent press release form the National Recycling Coalition. Please email [email protected] for more information.