Recycling in Hennepin County

There are many opportunities to recycle in Hennepin County. 

Find out what you can recycle and how to recycle more at home, work, school and on-the-go.

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What can I recycle?

See the Recycling at Home Guide (PDF) (also available in Spanish (PDF)) for a basic list of materials that are accepted for recycling. Wondering about recycling at work? Download the Recycling at Work Guide (PDF).

The following is a more detailed list of materials that are and are not accepted for recycling. Also see answers to frequently asked recycling questions.

Paper

Recycle: 

  • Mail, office and school papers
  • Magazines and catalogs
  • Newspapers and inserts
  • Phone books
  • Shredded paper in closed paper bags
  • Boxes:
    • Cardboard
    • Cereal and cracker boxes
    • Shoe boxes, gift boxes and electronics boxes
    • Toothpaste, medication and other toiletry boxes  

No:

  • Paper soiled with food
  • Paper plates and towels
  • Gift wrap

Maybe:

Some cities recycle:

  • Pizza boxes
  • Paper egg cartons
  • Pop and beer cases
  • Refrigerated or frozen food boxes 

Contact your City Recycling Coordinator or your recycling service provider for details.

Cartons

Recycle:

  • Milk cartons
  • Juice boxes
  • Soup, broth and wine cartons

Preparation: Rinse. It’s OK to leave caps and lids on.

Plastic

 

Recycle:

  • Bottles and jugs:
    • Water, soda and juice bottles 
    • Milk and juice jugs 
    • Ketchup and salad dressing bottles 
    • Dishwashing liquid bottles and detergent jugs 
    • Shampoo, soap and lotion bottles 
  • Cups and containers:
    • Yogurt, pudding and fruit cups 
    • Disposable cups and bowls
    • Margarine, cottage cheese, and other containers
    • Produce, deli and take out containers 
  • Packaging:
    • Clear packaging from toys and electronics 

Preparation: Rinse. It’s OK to leave caps and lids on.

No:

  • Styrofoam™ cups, plates and packaging
  • Microwaveable food trays
  • Plastic wrap
  • Motor oil bottles and other containers that held hazardous products.

Maybe:

Plastic bags can be recycled in some cities. Call your City Recycling Coordinator or your recycling service provider for details.

Glass

Recycle:

  • Food and beverage bottle and jars

Preparation: Rinse and remove lids.

No:

  • Drinking glasses, dishes, and vases 
  • Window glass and mirrors

Metal

Recycle:

  • Food and beverage cans

Preparation: Rinse.

No:

  • Cans that held hazardous products such as paint thinner.

Maybe:

Some cities recycle:

  • Scrap metal
  • Aluminum foil
  • Aerosol cans
  • Empty paint cans

Call your City Recycling Coordinator or your recycling service provider for details.

Recycling at home

Your city recycling coordinator is your point person for information on recycling and trash disposal in your city.

Live in an apartment or condo? Property owners are required to provide recycling. Call your city recycling coordinator if this service is not available. Find out more about resources we provide to support recycling at apartments buildings.

Recycling drop-offs

Recycling is accepted for no charge at our drop-off facilities in Brooklyn Park and Bloomington.

Recycling at work, school, events and public spaces

Recycling at work 

Two-thirds of waste generated by businesses and organizations is recyclable. Visit our business recycling page to learn about grants, technical assistance and free signs that are available to help you start or expand the recycling program at your business or organization.

Recycling at school

Nearly 80 percent of school waste is recyclable or compostable. School recycling programs present a great opportunity to educate future generations about waste reduction, recycling and overall environmental stewardship. Visit our school recycling page to learn about grants, technical assistance and free signs available to any school in the county.

Recycling at parks, events and public spaces

Hennepin County has grants available to improve public access to recycling while away from home. Visit the public space recycling page to learn about funding available to public entities to implement or expand recycling and composting programs at parks, sports venues, special events and along commercial districts. 

Visit our event recycling page to reserve recycling containers and get tips for planning a low-waste event.

Support businesses that recycle

The Hennepin County Environmental Partners program recognizes businesses for their efforts to recycle and divert organic waste, which includes food scraps and non-recyclable paper, from the trash through composting, sending food scraps to local farmers to feed animals, or by donating edible food.

Find businesses whose recycling practices have been recognized by the county.

What are businesses recognized for?

Businesses can be recognized for diverting wastes in the following categories:Hennepin County Environmental Partners

  • We recycle: Materials including paper, cardboard, cartons, glass, plastic and metal are sent to a recycling facility so they can be manufactured into new products.
  • We compost: Organic waste ,which includes food waste, non-recyclable paper and compostable foodware, is sent to a composting facility where it is recycled into valuable compost that is put to good use in landscaping and road construction projects.
  • We donate food: Leftover edible food, including unserved menu items, food from catered events and day-old baked goods, is donated to food rescue agencies to help people in need.
  • We feed animals: Food that is no longer safe for people to eat, including food prep waste, plate waste, spoiled or outdated food and unpackaged frozen food, is processed into animal feed.

Recycle Everywhere

Whether you’re at work, at home, at school, at a park or an event, remember to recycle everywhere you go. And if you can’t find recycling, ask for it!

Hennepin County's Recycle Everywhere campaign encourages people to recycle everywhere, connects them to resources to improve recycling and offers the opportunity to learn more about recycling at the Recycling Oasis.

Ask for it resources

Recycle Everywhere calling cards

Tell your favorite local businesses how you feel about recycling with these downloadable calling cards. You can leave them in the suggestions box or with their staff.

If a business deserves kudos for their recycling efforts, leave them this calling card:

Thanks for recycling. You're helping me recycle everywhere. (pdf)

If a business should recycle so that you can recycle everywhere, leave them this calling card:

Please recycle so I can recycle everywhere. Get bins, funds and advice. (pdf)

Frequently asked recycling questions

What should I do with caps and lids?

Leave plastic lids on to prevent them from falling through the gaps at the recycling sorting facility. This applies to plastic bottles, jugs, cups, containers, and cartons.

Remove caps and lids from glass bottles and jars. You can collect metal caps in a metal can (like a soup can). Squeeze the can shut before recycling to prevent the caps from falling through the gaps at the recycling facility.

Can I recycle pizza boxes?

No. Pizza boxes are not accepted for recycling because they are almost always contaminated with grease and oil. Food is one of the worst contaminants in the paper recycling process because it can ruin entire batches of recycled paper, costing the industry $700 million per year. If you insist on recycling your pizza box, make absolutely sure the entire box is grease-free. Cut or tear out the soiled portions of your pizza boxes and trash them.

Can I recycle plastic bags?

Check with your hauler. Allied Waste accepts retail plastic bags – put all plastic bags together in one plastic bag before placing in the recycling cart. Waste Management and Randy’s do not accept plastic bags. If you have a different hauler, check with your hauler or city for guidelines.

Plastic bags cause problems at the recycling sorting facilities because they become wrapped around moving parts and interfere with equipment. The good news is many retail and grocery stores accept plastic bags. The county drop-off facilities do too.

Can I recycle refrigerated and frozen food boxes?

Milk cartons and juice boxes can be recycled. Soup, broth, and wine cartons can too. Thanks to new technology at paper mills the valuable, high-quality paper in cartons can be separated from the unwanted layers of plastic and aluminum.

However, frozen food boxes and ice cream cartons are typically not accepted because plastic is incorporated into the matrix of the paper during manufacturing. This added plastic helps protect food from freezer burn and ensures that the paper container won’t get soggy.

Check with your hauler for details on other items, such as pop and beer cartons and refrigerated food boxes.

What do the numbers on plastics tell me about recycling?

The numbers on plastics are called Resin Identification Codes and let you know what type of plastic the items is made of. The symbol does not mean the item is recyclable. For example, both shampoo bottles and plastic bags may be #2 plastics, but their recyclability varies.

To crack the recycling code, it’s best to use description of the materials (bottles, cups, containers), images and the numbers to determine what is recyclable.

How clean do my recyclables need to be?

Cleaner is better. Rinse cans, bottles and jars to remove food residue. Here are some other pointers for preparing recyclables.

  • Leave plastic caps and lids on
  • Remove lids from glass jars
  • Flatten boxes
  • Remove pumps from spray bottles
  • Do not place recyclables in plastic bags

What should I do with confidential paper?

Confidential paper can be recycled. Your confidential papers are no safer in the garbage than in the recycling, but proper preparation is important. It's a good idea to shred paper with financial information or other sensitive personal information to prevent identity theft. Place the shredded paper in a brown paper bag, staple it shut, and put it in your curbside recycling cart.

Can I recycle egg cartons?

It depends on what type of egg carton it is. Paper egg cartons cannot be recycled because the paper fiber in egg cartons has been recycled too often and is too short to be recycled again. However, they are great to use in compost. If the egg carton is StyrofoamTM or #6 polystyrene, it goes in the trash. If the egg carton is a clear #1 plastic, then it can be recycled.

I'm confused about plastics. What should I do with StyrofoamTM, flower and garden pots, and larger items such as my laundry basket?

StyrofoamTM should be placed in the garbage. Examples include StyrofoamTM cups, plates, bowls, take-out containers, egg cartons, mushroom containers, and all other expanded polystyrene foam products. These items may be labeled as #6 plastic. As a general rule, #6 plastics are not accepted for recycling. There are very few viable, cost-effective markets currently available for this material. Transportation costs are prohibitive and it contaminates other materials, not to mention the litter impact. It's best to avoid StyrofoamTM.

Ask your city or hauler about flower and garden pots. Some haulers accept them, some do not. If they are accepted, make sure to clean out any remaining dirt. Also check with your city or hauler about options for other rigid plastics such as laundry baskets./p>

I know I can't recycle syringes and needles, but what should I do with them?

To reiterate, do not place in the recycling. Sharps are not recyclable and they are a health and safety risk to workers handling materials. Here are several ways to dispose of your sharps, syringes, and needles.

  • Destroy needles at home by purchasing a needle destruction unit available online or in many health care stores or use a mail-in program.
  • Subscribe to a service that will collect used sharps (needles) from households on a regular basis.
  • Use a mail-in program to send used sharps (needles) to be destroyed safely.
  • Contact your doctor or pharmacist for disposal alternatives.
  • Home disposal is legal but the least safe option. As a last resort, place needles in a hard plastic container (like a laundry detergent bottle), seal tightly, label as “SHARPS – DO NOT RECYCLE.” Throw the container in the trash.

City recycling contacts

Your city recycling coordinator is your point person for information about recycling, trash disposal and special clean ups in your city.

City recycling coordinators

City Phone number
Bloomington 952-563-8750
Brooklyn Center 763-493-8007
Brooklyn Park 763-493-8006
Champlin 763-421-8100
Chanhassen 952-361-1800
Corcoran 763-420-2288
Crystal 763-493-8006
Dayton 763-427-3224
Deephaven 952-890-1100
Eden Prairie 952-949-8330
Edina 952-826-0463
Excelsior 952-474-5233
Golden Valley 763-593-8030
Greenfield 763-477-6464
Greenwood 952-358-9935
Hanover 763-972-3335
Hopkins 952-939-1382
Independence 763-479-0527
Long Lake 952-473-6961
Loretto 763-479-4305
Maple Grove 763-494-6365
Maple Plain 763-479-3335
Medina 763-473-4643
Medicine Lake 763-542-9701
Minneapolis 612-673-2917
Minnetonka 952-988-8430
Minnetonka Beach 952-941-5174
Minnetrista 952-446-1660
Mound 952-472-0603
New Hope 763-493-8006
Orono 952-249-4600
Osseo 763-425-2624
Plymouth 763-509-5906
Richfield 612-861-9365
Robbinsdale 763-537-4534
Rockford (PDF) 763-477-6565
Rogers 763-428-2253
St. Anthony 763-784-8349
St. Bonifacius 952-446-1061
St. Louis Park 952-924-2555
Shorewood 952-960-7900
Spring Park 952-471-9051
Tonka Bay 952-474-7994
Wayzata 763-404-5366
Woodland 952-474-4755

 

If you need information for a community outside of Hennepin County, visit RethinkRecycling.com.

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