NYC Resources 311 Office of the Mayor
Newsletter Signup Printer Friendly Email a Friend Translate This Page
Text Size: A A A
NYC - recycle more, waste less New York City Recycles NYC Department of Sanitation
What to Recycle with Sanitation


Recycling is one of the simplest and most effective ways you can reduce your carbon footprint.

The requirements detailed below apply to all NYC residences, schools, institutions, and agencies serviced by the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) leaving NYCWasteLess.

Have questions about what to do with a specific residential item, use our "How do I get rid of..." feature.

If your location is serviced by a private carter for garbage collection, see the recycling requirements for commercial businesses. If your site's garbage is collected by DSNY but you elect to use a private carter for your recyclables, you must comply with certain reporting requirements.

What to Recycle: Mandated Materials
paper and cardboard
metal, glass, plastic & cartons
bulky items

Collection, Containers, and Promotional Materials
when to recycle and missed collections
recycling containers & decals

More Info

recycling symbol
also see 

What and How to Recycle with Sanitation:


  • newspapers, magazines, catalogs
  • white and colored paper (lined, copier, computer, staples OK)
  • mail and envelopes (any color, window envelopes OK)
  • paper bags
  • wrapping paper


  • soft-cover books, telephone books (paperbacks, comics, etc.; no spiral bindings)
  • cardboard egg cartons and trays
  • smooth cardboard (food and shoes boxes, tubes, file folders, cardboard from product  packaging)
  • pizza boxes (remove & discard soiled liner; recycle little plastic supporter in blue bin)
  • paper cups (plastic or waxy lining ok when empty & clean; plastic lids go in blue bin)
  • corrugated cardboard boxes (flattened and tied)

Place all paper recyclables together in CLEAR bags, or in any bin labeled with GREEN recycling decals or marked "MIXED PAPER". Or place in the white dumpster for paper recycling, if your building has one.)

Flatten and bundle large pieces of corrugated cardboard and tie with sturdy twine, or break into small pieces to place in your recycling bin or bag. (Or place loose in the white dumpster for paper recycling, if your building has one.)

See how you can reduce your junk mail.

Don't include the following with your paper recycling (see why): 

  • napkins, paper towels, or tissues
  • soiled paper plates or cups
  • paper soiled with food or liquid
  • paper with a lot of tape and glue
  • paper with heavy wax or plastic coating (candy wrappers, take-out containers, etc.)
  • photographic paper
  • hardcover books

back to top | back to section

What and How to Recycle with Sanitation:

METAL (all kinds)

  • metal cans (soup, pet food, empty aerosol cans, dried-out paint cans, etc.)
  • aluminum foil wrap & trays
  • metal caps & lids
  • household metal (wire hangers, pots, tools, curtain rods, knives, small appliances that are mostly metal, certain vehicle license plates, etc.)
  • bulk metal (large metal items, such as furniture, cabinets, large appliances, etc.)

GLASS (bottles & jars)

PLASTIC (rigid plastics)

  • plastic bottles, jugs & jars
  • rigid plastic caps & lids
  • rigid plastic food containers (yogurt, deli, hummus, dairy tubs, cookie tray inserts, "clamshell" containers, other plastic take-out containers)
  • rigid plastic non-food containers
  • rigid plastic packaging ("blister-pak" and "clamshell" consumer packaging, acetate boxes)
  • rigid plastic housewares (flower pots, mixing bowls, plastic appliances, etc.)
  • bulk rigid plastic (crates, buckets, pails, furniture, large toys, large appliances, etc.)
  • examples of rigid plastics and what NOT to include

  • food & beverage cartons & drink boxes (or any such cartons and aseptic packaging that hold beverages and food: ice tea, soy milk, soup, etc.)

Empty and rinse containers before recycling. Place all together in CLEAR bags, or in any bin labeled with BLUE recycling decals or marked "METAL, GLASS & PLASTIC".

Recycle caps & lids. 

Wrap knives or similar sharp metal objects in cardboard (such as a piece of cereal box) and secure with tape. Label the package "CAUTION: SHARP" and place with other designated metal, glass, plastic recyclables. For Home Sharps/Hypodermics, see Household Medical Wastes.

Place bulk metal or plastic next to recycling bins or bags.

Call 311 before discarding appliances that contain CFC gas.

5¢ deposit: Bring deposit bottles and cans back to the store for refunds.

Don't include the following with your metal, glass, plastic & carton recycling:

  • plastic foam items (foam cups, foam egg cartons, foam trays, foam packing peanuts, foam sporting equipment, etc.)
  • plastic bags, wrappers, shower curtains, and all kinds of plastic "film"
  • containers that held dangerous or corrosive chemicals
  • lighters (plastic, metal, or any material)
  • plastic tubes (toothpaste, lotion, and cosmetics, etc.)
  • single-serve food and drink squeezable pouches (juice pouches, baby food squeeze pouches, yogurt to go pouches, etc.)
  • cassette and VHS tapes
  • pens & markers (plastic, metal, or any material)
  • disposable razors
  • 3-ring binders (if separate the metal rings, can recycle the metal)
  • umbrellas
  • garden hoses
  • luggage (plastic or textile)
  • sponges
  • sports balls (basket balls, bowling balls, soccer balls, footballs, yoga balls, etc.)
  • any glass items other than glass bottle & jars (mirrors, light bulbs, ceramics, glassware, etc.)
  • batteries (take batteries out of toys before recycling)
  • electronics (computers, TVs, and related devices)
  • extension cords and Christmas tree lights
  • diapers

If item is in good condtion, see reuse it nyc for reuse options.

These items listed above are not recyclable by our vendor, and can create problems in processing and marketing the material that is recyclable. You can take plastic bags and rechargeable batteries to many retail stores in NYC to be recycled. For more info on this and other take-back programs, see: Take it Back NYC

back to topback to section

What and How to Recycle:

Furniture and appliances that are predominantly metal or rigid plastic and are too big for your recycling container or clear bag (such as washing machines, metal filing cabinets, water heaters, or plastic furniture) should be placed beside the recycling container on your regular Recycling Day leaving NYCWasteLess.

Before discarding appliances containing CFC gas or freon air conditioner (such as refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners, or dehumidifiers), you must schedule an appointment to place the item at the curb for CFC recovery. You can make an appointment leaving NYCWasteLess  on the Sanitation website or call 311. For safety reasons, the law requires doors to be removed from refrigerators and freezers before placing at the curb.

Non-recyclable trash that is too big for your garbage container or bag (such as mattresses, lumber, or debris from small construction or garden projects) may be placed at the curb on any regular garbage collection day leaving NYCWasteLess.

The Department of Sanitation will collect up to six bulk items from one address. For more information, see bulk collection leaving NYCWasteLess on the DSNY website. There are special regulations for wood from trees and for mattresses leaving NYCWasteLess.

broken tv

For info on how to handle TVs and other broken electronics, see electronics recycling.

For info on how to donate reusable furniture and other goods, visit NYC Stuff Exchange leaving NYCWasteLess.

back to topback to section

When to Recycle and Missed Collections

To find out your Recycling Day use the collection schedule leaving NYCWasteLess feature on the Sanitation website leaving NYCWasteLess, or call 311.

To report missed collections, call 311, or complete the Missed Collection leaving NYCWasteLess form on 311 Online.

back to top

Recycling Containers and Decals

The NYC Department of Sanitation does not supply bins or bags for recyclables (or refuse). Rigid containers can be used for recycling as long as they are 18-32 gallon capacity, have lids, and are properly labeled. Plastic bags for recycling must be CLEAR, 13-55 gallon capacity. See where to buy recycling bins.

 outdoor containers and decals
 indoor containers and decals

(for setout at the curb for DSNY collection)


Label containers on both sides and the lid with Department of Sanitation decals, or permanently marked in letters at least 4" high:



Decal application is most effective when decal is applied during temperatures between 40° and 50°F to a surface that is dry, clean, and smooth.

To request free decals to label containers for Department of Sanitation recycling collection: 

Request new decals when fading/peeling occurs.

Note: Existing decals can still be used to label recycling containers even if they don't show the additional plastics that can be recycled.


(for internal collection of recyclables)

Apartment buildings, city agencies, schools, and other organizations receiving DSNY collection service can request sets of blue and green indoor decals to label indoor recycling containers placed in common areas.

These decals are for indoor use only, since they are too small and not durable enough for outdoor use.

To request free decals to label indoor recycling containers:

Note: Existing decals can still be used to label recycling containers even if they don't show the additional plastics that can be recycled.

back to topback to section

recycling symbolRecycling Symbol

Many residents are confused about what to recycle because so many products display the universal recycling symbol (three chasing arrows), primarily as a marketing tool (see more information on plastics resin codes). Each city chooses what they can recycle based on local factors. Manufacturers, however, do not tailor product labeling for each local program, thus, confusion.

Do not place items in your recycling containers just because the package displays a recycling symbol or other recycling information. Always check your local program for what can and cannot be recycled where you live. In NYC, refer to the what to recycle lists above to decide what to put into recycling containers. 

The Sustainable Packaging Coalition has developed a new “How2Recycle” label to help take the mystery out of product label claims. The “How2Recycle” label incorporates the recycling symbol to help consumers understand what products and packaging can and cannot be recycled where you live, and reminds you to always check your local program for details.

back to top

promotional materials
nyc's recycling game
recycling at home
recycling in schools
recycling in agencies & institutions
recycling in businesses
fall leaves
all about plastics
what happens to recyclables
recycling and nyc's carbon footprint
history of recycling in nyc
frequently asked questions
reports and stats
what's in nyc's waste
get rid of stuff
request forms
helpful links
products and services 

Site Map

Copyright The City of New York Contact Us Privacy Policy Terms of Use