Lawrence officials answer common questions about curbside recycling program

Kathy Richardson, the city’s division manager for solid waste, said Lawrence residents have been doing an extraordinary job of keeping non-recyclable items out of the city’s curbside collection program.

“Lawrence is doing such a good job of putting the right things in the containers,” Richardson said. “Our contractor has been to several sites around the U.S., and he’ll tell you that he’s never seen such clean material.”

But Lawrence residents do have questions about what should and shouldn’t go in the big blue recycling bins. Here are some answers from Richardson:

Q: In general, what can be placed in the blue bins?

A: Some of the more common materials accepted are: glass food and beverage containers; mixed paper, newsprint, office paper, cardboard; tin, steel and aluminum cans; plastic containers numbers 1 through 7.

Q: Should I take the plastic caps off pop bottles before recycling?

A: Yes. The plastic caps should not be put in the blue bins. Generally, the recycling facility can’t process anything smaller than two inches in size. The 12th and Haskell Recycling Center can take smaller items.

Q: Can plastic-coated cardboard, like a milk carton, be recycled as part of the city’s program?

A: Yes, put it in the blue cart.

Q: Do labels on cans or pill bottles need to be removed?

A: No, but it might be a good idea to remove pill bottle labels for privacy. Some pill bottles are less than two inches in size, which means they shouldn’t be thrown in the blue bins to begin with.

Q: Is it OK to leave the shipping tape on cardboard boxes?

A: Yes.

Q: I understand the city’s program doesn’t accept plastic grocery sacks. But with the pending closure of the Wal-Mart recycling center, where am I supposed to take them?

A: Most grocery stores in town have bins where people can drop off used sacks. Although Wal-Mart is closing the recycling center, it will still have a bin for used sacks inside the store.

Q: Do staples in boxes or catalogs need to be removed?

A: No.

Q: I heard shredded paper needs to be in clear plastic bags. Why is that, and where do I get clear plastic bags?

A: Crews at the recycling center need to be able to see the shredded paper because it has to be removed and processed separately. Most office supply stores and large retailers like Wal-Mart and Target carry the plastic bags. They are usually in the section where paper shredders or office supplies are sold.

Q: Can any type of glass be put into blue bins?

A: No. The program only accepts glass beverage or food containers. Glass windows, vases, Pyrex or other types of glass are not accepted. A place like the 12th and Haskell Recycling Center is more likely to take other types of glass.

Q: The city’s curbside recycling crews come every other week. Is there a way for me to know which week they are to arrive?

A: Yes. The city’s recycling website,, allows you to sign up for text or e-mail reminders about your week to set out recycling. Or you can type in your address and look up a printable schedule.

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