It's likely there's something in your recycling bin that shouldn’t be there

There are plenty of reasons to recycle, and the city of Greenville makes it easy, but officials say there is one thing that people often recycle they definitely shouldn’t: plastic bags.

Officials are asking that residents please keep all plastic bags, including grocery, bread, dry cleaning and newspaper bags, out of recycling bins.

"Residents, we need your help!" a city Facebook post said. "Plastic bags get caught in recycling conveyor systems."

Plastic bags can be recycled at many grocery and retail stores, officials say, but they should never be included in recycling materials put out for city pickup.

Items that should be recycled:

  • Aluminum cans, foil and pie plates that are free of food residue
  • Aerosol cans completely empty of contents with the plastic cap removed.
  • Books
  • Cardboard, flattened with all non-paper packaging, such as Styrofoam, removed.
  • Mixed paper items including magazines, books, bulk mail, phone books, newspapers, chipboard, paperboard, cereal boxes, cracker boxes, etc.
  • Paper egg cartons
  • Plastic bottles and jugs (all containers numbered 1-7)
  • Steel cans
  • Two vehicle tires per person may be recycled, but no rims or debris and no heavy equipment tires.
  • Scrap metals, appliances and tires are accepted for recycling at the curb but should be placed outside the blue recycling container.

City officials say, “We do not accept any items with heavy food residue. Putting the wrong items in your bin costs time of the crews on the recycling routes and fuel and can contaminate other clean and acceptable items in the recycling stream.”

Items that should not be recycled, but can be placed in regular garbage:

  • Appliances: The city will collect disposed of appliances for city customers. Call 864-467-4345 for pick up. Organizations that collect appliances include Goodwill Industries (864-351-0100), Habitat for Humanity (864-298-0099), Miracle Hill Ministries (864-242-6931, and the Salvation Army (864-235-4803).
  • Crayons
  • Eyeglasses
  • Glass jars and bottles (clear, brown, blue and green), ceramic items, window glass, drinking glasses or mirrors
  • Household batteries (AA, AAA, etc.). All others should check with their garbage collection provider before doing so. Car batteries, rechargeable batteries and cell phone batteries must be taken to an approved collection site. Visit for locations.
  • Paint that is dried can be thrown away with the regular garbage, or dropped at any Greenville County drop-off center.
  • Pizza boxes with grease or cheese residue
  • Styrofoam egg cartons can be taken to Publix Grocery Stores, where recycling bins are set up outside the front doors.
  • Wax-covered paper containers such as orange juice or ice cream containers

Items that must be taken to Greenville County drop-off centers or Twin Chimneys Landfill:

  • Building materials, household furniture or appliances
  • Compact discs (CDs) and CD cases
  • Hazardous materials including fluorescent light bulbs, ballasts, used oils and chemicals
  • Heavily waxed items such as laminated sheets, milk cartons, ice cream cartons, etc.
  • Liquid paint
  • Plastic bags, trays, Styrofoam, diapers, etc. (It is against state law to dispose of computers, computer monitors, televisions and printers, as well as parts of any of these items, in a recycling bin or trash container.)
  • VHS and Beta tapes

For computer equipment and televisions, residents can call local companies such as: Best Buy at 864-329-1291, EPSI at 864-847-7700 and Clean Lites at 864-503-9900, or visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website.

The city of Greenville holds electronics recycling events twice a year.

For the city’s complete list of recycling and disposable items, click here.

Why recycle?

Experts say by recycling about 30 percent of our waste every year, Americans save the equivalent of 11.9 billion gallons of gasoline and reduce the greenhouse gas equivalent

Producing recycled white paper creates 74 percent less air pollution and 35 percent less water pollution than producing paper from virgin fibers.

Using recycled cans instead of extracting ore to make aluminum cans produces 95 percent less air pollution and 97 percent less water pollution.

Recycling and remanufacturing are 194 times more effective in reducing greenhouse gas emissions than landfills and virgin manufacturing

For every position at a landfill, there are 10 jobs in recycling processing and 25 jobs in recycling-based manufacturing. The recycling industry employs more workers than the auto industry.

Selling recyclable materials offsets the extra costs of collecting and processing recyclables, making recycling the cheaper option for the country.

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