DO YOUR PART AT THE CART!

By learning what items can be recycled and what belongs in the trash, you can help Fresno County reduce recycling contamination. This ultimately allows our County to avoid the added costs of separating items that don’t belong in the blue carts. Let’s sort it out!

WHY RECYCLING MATTERS IN FRESNO COUNTY

Recycling is important to everyone in Fresno County, and it has a positive impact on our environment. When you recycle an item in your blue cart instead of throwing it in the trash, you help reduce the amount of waste that’s sent to our landfills. Just like conserving energy or water, recycling allows us to conserve materials and ultimately reduces costs. So remember: reduce, reuse and recycle!

DID YOU KNOW?

  • Recycling just one aluminum can saves enough energy to power a TV for three hours.
  • For every ton of cardboard recycled, 46 gallons of oil are saved.
  • Recycling a stack of newspaper just three feet high saves one tree.
  • Recycling just one glass jar saves enough electricity to light an 11 watt CFL bulb for 20 hours.

WHAT YOU CAN RECYCLE – AND HOW TO DO IT THE RIGHT WAY

Blue or gray cart? To recycle or not to recycle? It can be confusing, but we’re here to help!

Follow these simple tips to make sure you’re recycling the right way:

  • Place only clean paper and cardboard in the blue cart
  • Rinse, wipe, and dry your plastic, glass, and metal containers
  • Keep food and liquids out of the blue cart
  • Do not bag your recyclables
 

COUNTY RECYCLING – WHO’S MY WASTE HAULER?

Not sure how you can recycle? Unincorporated Fresno County and special districts have routine waste haulers for rural, mountain, and urban county islands. To learn more about your community, click here:

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RECYCLING: GOOD FOR OUR COMMUNITY, GREAT FOR YOUR BUSINESS

Fresno County's Recycling Market Development Zone ("RMDZ") Program combines recycling efforts with business growth. We’ll help your business develop a plan to create products or raw materials from recycled content, and we can help market those recycled products. We also offer loans to offset the costs to produce recycled materials to businesses, non-profits and other organizations. For more information on business and commercial recycling, click here

WHAT ABOUT TIRES?

HOUSEHOLD ITEMS THAT REQUIRE SPECIAL HANDLING

OUR REUSE CENTER

Let’s Sort It Out

When it comes to recycling, some things just don’t mix. Many items end up in our blue recycling carts that don’t belong — and blending the “recycling do’s and don’ts” together can be tough to sort out.

“Contamination” is when an item is placed in the blue cart that could potentially ruin the entire load of material. It includes food residue on a glass jar or a soda can that’s still half-full. Here are some tips on how to reduce cart contamination and maximize your recycling efforts:

Plastic

  • Empty & rinse bottles, tubs, jugs & jars
  • Remove pumps

Metal

  • Empty & rinse cans (Watch out for those sharp edges!)

Paper

  • Flatten cardboard and cut down into smaller pieces when possible for more recycling room (Remember to be safety-minded when using scissors, boxcutters, and other cutting tools!)

Glass

  • Empty & rinse bottles & jars

What Doesn’t Belong?

Sometimes, people aren’t sure whether something can be recycled, so they place it in the blue cart because it feels like they’re doing the right thing. But hoping something will get recycled when it should be thrown in the trash only leads to more cart contamination!

Below are common items found in many blue carts that belong in your gray trash cart:

  • Plastic bags (do not bag recyclables)
  • Garbage bags
  • E-waste & batteries
  • Scrap metal & hangers
  • Diapers
  • Food (including food residue on paper, plastic, metal & glass)
  • Styrofoam® & clamshell containers
  • Clothing
  • Pizza boxes
  • Garden hoses
  • Metal and plastic car parts
  • Kid's toys and swimming pools
The Resources Division can help you sort out all of your recycling questions! Remember, when in doubt, call about! Contact Resources Division staff at (559) 600-4259. You may also contact us by email at recycling@fresnocountyca.gov.

FAQ

What is the “Recycling Surcharge” I see on my solid waste service bill?
Due to major changes to foreign trade policies (namely China’s “National Sword” policy), the secondary commodities market (recycled materials) has experienced a significant negative impact. Accordingly, the County, based on discussions with the haulers and analysis and research of data volunteered by haulers, entered into an agreement amendment effective January 1, 2020 that authorized a percentage surcharge in monthly rates to mitigate the falling out of the markets. A major factor in the decline of the markets is because of “recycling contamination,” a large portion of which is caused by customers/residents. Placing trash and/or nonrecyclable items in the cart/bin such as dirty diapers, garden hoses, car parts, plastic toys, plastic clothing hangers, unrinsed food containers, etc. is considered contamination. Many of the non-recyclable items are the product of what is called “wish-cycling” which is when a product is placed in a recycling container by a customer/resident solely because it is made of a material such as plastic, and not because it has actual value on the back end of the material processing chain and markets. All these small contaminants affect the final rate of contamination, which is set at extremely low tolerances for acceptance (at one point in China, the tolerance rate was 0.5%). Upon inspection by foreign trade partners at ports of entry, entire bales or shipments of recyclable materials would be rejected and sent back to the United States, causing huge losses to processors, brokers, and ultimately haulers. This Recycling Surcharge is capped at 5% and is set to be in place for the next five years, ending June 30, 2025. At that time, the County will reevaluate the merits of the Recycling Surcharge.
Can I throw my empty pizza boxes in the blue container?
Pizza boxes are one of those items that frequently confuse the public. They are made of cardboard, which is usually recyclable. However, any type of grease, oil, or food/cheese remnant renders them useless for recycling. Within the next few years, the State of California has mandated organics diversion programs (green waste, food waste, food soiled paper and cardboard, etc.). Pizza boxes have the potential to become part of the organics waste stream as it will decompose over time through composting processes.
Can I recycle plastic bags such as shopping bags, bread bags, zip-lock bags and food pouches, and other similar packaging?
Many of these items are what are referred to as “plastic film.” Simply, it is plastic material that is manufactured very thin to be used as seals on food containers, raw material for plastic shopping bags, bread bags, tortilla bags, produce bags, etc. It is not easily recycled, and many times causes difficulties at the Material Recovery Facilities (abbreviated as “MRF” or “MRFs”) that recyclables are delivered to by solid waste and recycling haulers. MRFs employ automated systems when sorting recyclables and plastic bags tend to get jammed and intertwined in the conveyors and sorting machinery, often causing production stoppages to remove the bags, or breakdowns of equipment. This can lead to increased costs, lost productivity, missed sales, and ultimately increased service costs to the customer. Just because many of the plastic film-based items are not recyclable, does not mean that they cannot be reused or repurposed for something else around the house. For instance, many of the bags could be used to dispose of pet waste, dirty diapers, alternate trash bags, or storage bags for other non-food items in your house, etc. Bubble wrap can be reused to protect items being shipped, or when packing away fragile items such as fine china, glassware, etc.
Can I recycle unique items like fast food beverage lids?
Some items like fast food beverage lids, are usually not recyclable because they are made of #6 plastic, which is Polystyrene. Polystyrene is more commonly seen in the form of Styrofoam. Styrofoam is not recyclable and has to be discarded as there are no viable recycling programs for Styrofoam and #6 plastics currently.
Which plastics can I recycle?
The main plastics most desirable in recycling programs are #1 and #2 plastic. #1 plastic is Polyethylene Terephthalate (aka PET or PETE). This is most commonly in the form of beverage containers, especially the clear plastic water bottles. #2 plastic is High Density Polyethylene (aka HDPE), and is most seen in the form of laundry detergent bottles, milk jugs, juice jugs, etc. Plastic containers such as sour cream containers, plastic salad dressing bottles are almost always recyclable and are usually made of either PET, or miscellaneous plastics #3 - #7. It is always best to check for the “chasing arrows” and the number on the bottom or side of these plastic products before placing in the recycling cart or bin. Many recycling programs in Fresno County and California accept #3, #4, #5, and #7 plastics. The best practice for all food and beverage containers is to wipe, rinse, and dry before placing in your recycling container.
Can I recycle milk and juice cartons?
Milk and juice cartons are what are called “aseptic packaging.” These are recyclable and should be opened at the top, rinsed out, and allowed to dry prior to being placed in the recycling container.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

 
 
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