Pinellas Recycling FAQs
- Where can I recycle?
- Can I recycle more than cans, bottles, and paper?
- What is the A to Z Guide?
- What is the recycling directory?
- Why should I recycle?
- Why isn't there just one recycling program?
- What about business recycling?
- Why can't I recycle more?
- Why doesn't everybody have curbside recycling?
- Have recycling programs in Pinellas County changed?
- How much do we recycle?
- How much could we recycle?
- How do you know 76% of our trash could be recycled?
- Where can I recycle glass?
- Which plastic bottles can be recycled?
- Can I recycle plastic bags?
- Can I recycle plastic items other than bottles?
- What is mixed paper recycling?
- Can I recycle cereal boxes with mixed paper?
- What is paperboard? Can I recycle it with cardboard?
- Do I have to flatten cardboard?
- Why are pizza boxes not accepted with cardboard?
- Do I need to separate mixed paper and newspaper?
- Can I recycle shredded paper?
- Should I remove the caps on plastic bottles?
- Can I mix steel and aluminum cans?
- Do I have to rinse out cans and bottles?
- Do I have to crush aluminum cans or plastic bottles?
- Do I have to remove labels from jars or bottles?
- Can I recycle aerosol cans with steel cans?
- Should I still put my curbside bin out if it’s raining?
- What is recycled mulch?
- Can I recycle yard waste such as branches or leaves?
- Can I recycle electronics such as TVs or computers?
- Can I recycle used motor oil?
1. Where can I recycle?
It’s easy to get started! Click here for a list of local recycling programs.
2. Can I recycle more than cans, bottles and paper?
Yes. Find out how to recycle just about anything with our handy A to Z Guide.
3. What is the A to Z Guide?
The A to Z Guide for Recycling & Disposal in Pinellas County is an online guide to help local residents and businesses find out what items can be recycled and how to do it. The guide is a wonderful resource that provides environmentally friendly ways to “get rid of ” over 250 items. Each page has a link in the footer so you can provide feedback easily—we’d love to hear from you!
4. What is the recycling directory?
Recycle Today is an annual publication that provides updated information on Pinellas County’s disposal and recycling programs. You can view the guide online, or contact us to request a copy.
5. Why should I recycle?
By recycling, you contribute to a sustainable future. Throwing away an item that can be recycled is a waste! Recycling creates new useful products, extends the life of our landfill and Waste-to-Energy facility, conserves resources, saves energy, reduces pollution, saves operating costs for businesses and helps preserve our environment for future generations.
6. Why isn't there just one recycling program?
Each city addresses the needs of its own residents, so we have 24 different recycling programs in Pinellas County plus the program for unincorporated areas. To make it easy, we provide a print-friendly one page flyer for each program.
7. What about business recycling?
For businesses, we offer:
- Cutting Waste at Work - Waste reduction guidance and free assessment
- Hazardous waste disposal - Disposal information and schedule
8. Why can't I recycle more items?
Recycling is market driven, and not everything has a market. In addition, recyclers usually require large, consistent volumes of quality materials which limit municipal collection programs. However, you may be surprised at the variety of items you can recycle locally (visit our A to Z Guide). Please check the A to Z Guide periodically as it is frequently updated.
9. Why doesn't everybody have curbside recycling?
Each municipality determines whether or not to provide curbside service. Drop-off recycling centers are available to all citizens in Pinellas County.
10. Have recycling programs in Pinellas County changed?
Yes. Several cities added or expanded their curbside recycling programs recently, such as Gulfport and Tarpon Springs. Plastic bottle caps and clean pizza boxes are now accepted in many local programs. Residents of Gulfport, Oldsmar and Tarpon Springs can now recycle plastics #1-7. Find out what you can recycle in your local neighborhood.
11. How much do we recycle?
During the last decade, Pinellas County has maintained a countywide recycling rate of about 30% of the total garbage generated in Pinellas County.
12. How much could we recycle?
Over 76% of our trash could be recycled. In other words, most items that are thrown away could have been recycled or reused.
13. How do you know 76% of our trash could be recycled?
This data is based on the latest waste composition study. Workers spent days sifting through mounds of garbage, sorting it into 22 categories. The study showed that only 24% of our trash is not easily recycled (items such as soiled rags or used diapers).
14. Where can I recycle glass?
There are 29 drop-off sites for glass; see the recycling map for locations. Some cities also accept glass in their curbside recycling programs: Belleair Beach, Belleair Bluffs, Belleair Shore, Dunedin, Indian Rocks Beach, Largo, Madeira Beach, North Redington Beach, Oldsmar, Pinellas Park, Redington Beach, Seminole, South Pasadena, St. Pete Beach, St. Petersburg, Tarpon Springs, and Treasure Island.
15. Which plastic bottles can be recycled?
If it’s a plastic bottle, recycle it! If you’re not sure, “check for a neck.” You can recycle any container with a neck (an opening smaller than the base). For example, a plastic milk jug has a neck so you can recycle it, but a yogurt container has no neck so it cannot be locally recycled except in Gulfport, Oldsmar and Tarpon Springs. In all local programs, you can recycle plastic soda bottles, milk jugs, water bottles, syrup containers, shampoo bottles, ketchup bottles, and more.
16. Can I recycle plastic bags?
Yes, but not in your curbside or drop-off bin. You can reuse bags, or drop them off for recycling at local stores. Plastic bags are our #1 contaminant. Please help us to keep them out of recycling bins. One issue is that plastic bags can clog or damage recycling machinery. Also, if a load of recycling has foreign materials mixed in – such as plastic bags or garbage – a recycler may reject the entire load and send it to a landfill.
17. Can I recycle plastic items other than bottles?
Yes. Residents of Gulfport, Oldsmar and Tarpon Springs can now recycle plastics #1-7 in their curbside recycling bin. Also, see our online A to Z Guide for ways to recycle plastic items such as newspaper sleeves, egg cartons, produce trays, Styrofoam packing peanuts, grocery bags, and plant pots.
18. What is mixed paper recycling?
Mixed paper is defined as any clean, dry paper item that tears. This includes white paper, colored paper, catalogs, magazines, junk mail, wrapping paper, phone books, folders, sticky notes, and paperboard items such as shoe boxes. You cannot recycle wax-coated paper such as milk cartons, or paper that does not tear easily such as metallic gift wrap. Also you cannot recycle paper towels or tissues.
19. Can I recycle cereal boxes with mixed paper?
Yes. Mixed paper recycling includes paperboard items such as cereal boxes, paper towel tubes, and soda cartons.
20. What is paperboard? Can I recycle it with cardboard?
Check the edge—paperboard items have one layer, while cardboard items have three layers (including a middle wavy layer). Examples of paperboard items are cracker boxes and toilet paper tubes. Some programs (such as the Pinellas County Utilities drop-off centers) accept paperboard and cardboard mixed together, but other programs require the items to be separated (such as the Largo curbside program requests that cardboard be placed under the bin).
21. Do I have to flatten cardboard?
Yes, please flatten cardboard to save space in the recycling bin.
22. Are pizza boxes accepted with cardboard?
Yes – you can now recycle pizza boxes. This is a recent change in local recycling programs. Previously the boxes were banned due to possible food residue. Recycle the box only if it is clean—with no pizza, wax paper or grease stains. If part of the box is greasy, tear it off and recycle the rest.
23. Do I need to separate mixed paper and newspaper?
It depends. Some programs (such as the Pinellas County Utilities drop-off centers) accept mixed paper and newspaper mixed together, but other programs require the items to be separated. The amount of sorting required depends on the program’s end user. For example, separated office paper can be recycled into high-grade copy paper. Office paper that is mixed with other kinds of paper would be made into a lower-grade product such as ceiling insulation.
24. Can I recycle shredded paper?
Yes. You can recycle shredded paper, but it should be in a paper bag (please, no plastic bags) so it won’t cause litter. Also, please be sure to shred only paper (no credit cards or CDs).
25. Should I remove the caps on plastic bottles?
Yes, please remove the caps from plastic bottles before recycling, and then place both the bottle and the cap in the recycling bin. Removal of the cap ensures the bottle is free from liquids, allows the bottle to be crushed and prevents injury from “exploding” caps.
26. Can I mix steel and aluminum cans?
It depends. Some programs (such as the Pinellas County Utilities drop-off centers) accept steel and aluminum containers mixed together, but other programs accept only aluminum. The way to tell the difference is that aluminum cans are softer, lighter, and crushable. If you can’t tell by how a can feels, use a magnet. If the can sticks to the magnet, it’s steel; if not, it’s aluminum.
27. Do I have to rinse out cans and bottles?
No, but we recommend that you rinse containers for sanitary reasons.
28. Do I have to crush aluminum cans or plastic bottles?
No, but we encourage you to crush cans and bottles in order to save space.
29. Do I have to remove labels from jars or bottles?
No, you do not need to remove labels from glass, plastic or steel containers before recycling them. We ask that you remove lids (before recycling bottles), but labels are okay since they may be easily removed in the recycling process.
30. Can I recycle aerosol cans with steel cans?
You can recycle aerosol cans only in the cities which have a recycling contract with Waste Management: Belleair Beach, Belleair Bluffs, Pinellas Park, Seminole, Tarpon Springs, and Treasure Island. It is safe to dispose of EMPTY aerosol cans in the trash. If the can is not empty, it is considered hazardous waste, and should be taken to a mobile collection or our HEC3 facility.
31. Should I still put my curbside bin out if it’s raining?
If possible, please wait until the next pickup, or put out only non-paper items such as bottles and cans. Wet paper products are not recyclable.
32. What is recycled mulch?
Yard waste (such as branches or leaves) is safely processed into recycled mulch, and offered to the public at 20 convenient sites. The mulch is clean and sterile. There is no limit to the amount of mulch a resident can take for free. View information on free mulch.
33. Can I recycle yard waste such as branches or leaves?
Click here to find out if your city offers yard waste recycling. Even if your city does not have a yard waste program, there are ways you can recycle it, such as using leaves for mulch, leaving grass clippings on the lawn, or creating compost. For more yard waste recycling options, visit our A to Z Guide.
34. Can I recycle electronics such as TVs or computers?
Yes. There are many convenient ways for Pinellas County residents to recycle electronics for free. For businesses, there is often a fee. Visit our A to Z Guide to find out more.
35. Can I recycle used motor oil?
Yes. Pinellas County partners with over 60 automotive stores to offer free recycling for used motor oil. You can also drop off used motor oil at the HEC3 or a mobile collection. Learn about recycling options for used motor oil, motor oil filters and antifreeze by visiting the motor oil recycling page.