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2019 Recycling Resolutions

The City of Cedar Rapids Solid Waste and Recycling division asks customers to make good recycling habits their goal in 2019.

Industry factors have made this an increasingly important time to clarify the message for items that pose challenges at the recycle-sorting facility, and therefore do not belong in customers’ CURBY carts. Such items are considered recycling contamination and should not be recycled.

Residents are strongly encouraged to continue recycling materials that are actually recyclable, specifically certain paper, cardboard, plastics, cans and glass. These recyclable materials remain eligible for curbside collection.

“Many of us want to be better recyclers during the holidays, but we aren't sure how or have busy schedules,” said Mark Jones, Solid Waste and Recycling division superintendent at the City of Cedar Rapids. “We encourage our customers to make sure they are only putting the right items into the recycling container — only the items that can actually be recycled.”

“Recycling is really great, except for when it’s not. We appreciate the aspirational spirit of our recyclers, but we need to rethink what we’re leaving in our CURBY carts,” said Jones. For this reason, the City of Cedar Rapids Solid Waste & Recycling Division is asking its customers to consider better recycling habits as part of their 2019 resolutions.

The market for recyclable goods is experiencing increased strains. Jones said, “The countries we sell our recycled products to are stepping up materials enforcement. They are not willing to landfill non-recyclables for us anymore. They will only accept purely recyclable items.” Materials shipments that do not meet new requirements face rejection.

The City of Cedar Rapids already benefits from better recycling rates than other cities in the region — thanks in part to its history of low recycling contamination — yet acknowledges the need for increased vigilance from the recycling public.

An increase in collected materials during the holiday season also adds challenges to the recycle sorting process. The process uses a series of conveyor belts, lifts, teeth and air jets, which can clog when the wrong items go through the system. Strands of holiday lights, plastic grocery bags, Styrofoam and wire racks are all objects that cannot be recycled at the sorting facility. Such items cause sorting line shutdowns, which back up the process. These items do not belong in customers’ CURBY carts.

“While some customers believe it is easy to remove improperly recycled items at the sorting facility, this is simply not the case. Items that are not recyclable at the curbside — like holiday lights, glittery gift wrap, or food containers that still have liquid residue — can contaminate other clean recyclables, ruining an entire truckload,” explained Jones.

Non-recyclable items that end up at the sorting facility can put a community’s recycling program at risk. Recycling errors can also cause delays and damage equipment, resulting in additional costs passed on to the customer.

“We all need to do our part to make environmentally responsible choices throughout the holiday season and help make a positive impact in our communities for generations to come,” said Jones. He offers a simple approach for customers who are uncertain which items qualify for curbside recycling, “When in doubt, throw it out.”


  • Good paper and cardboard: printer, copier, and office paper, magazines, newspapers, paper grocery bags, dry cardboard/boxes (recycle at the curb)
  • Bad paper and cardboard: coated paper, paper mixed with other materials, wet cardboard with food grease/scraps (do not recycle at the curb)
  • Good plastic: rinsed bottles, plastics with the recycling symbol on them (recycle at the curb)
  • Bad plastic: bags, plastic wrapper packaging, films, bubble wrap, sandwich wrappers (do not recycle at the curb)
  • Good metal: rinsed drink cans, rinsed food tins (recycle at the curb)
  • Bad metal: aerosol spray cans (do not recycle at the curb)

Some items may have a recycling symbol on the package, but cannot be collected at the curb. Styrofoam, batteries, garden hoses, bubble wrap and other materials can cause issues at the sorting facility. Extra special attention should be paid to these types of goods.

Always be sure to look up whether items can be recycled at the curb — or simply throw them away. You can learn how to make better curbside recycling choices through Republic Services’ website at www.RecyclingSimplified.com

  Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 101 First Street SE

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