What can I recycle in my cart or bin?

Not sure what to do with that aluminum enchilada pan? What about the old broken TV in your garage? Ask the Recycle Coach! Provided by the City of Santa Fe’s Environmental Services Division, the Recycle Coach will tell you everything that can and cannot be recycled in Santa Fe County. Please note that this tool is tailored for city residents with curbside recycling, but the same recycling rules apply to everyone in the county, including convenience center users. All recycling collected throughout Santa Fe County and the City of Santa Fe get processed at the same place! County residents can also consult the links in the Quick Info box for more details about how to recycle at convenience centers. Remember that recycling is required at County convenience centers.

If you’re still not sure if something is recyclable, please put it in the garbage. Contamination, like throwing food waste in your recycling bin, causes a lot of problems at the recycling facility, and can cause a whole load of recycled material to go to the landfill. Other items, like plastic bags, get caught in the recycling sorter, which can result in temporarily shutting down the entire recycling facility as workers untangle the plastic from the machinery. When in doubt, throw it out! And please, refrain from aspirational recycling.

Recycling 101

Recycle Right. Santa Fe County convenience centers accept clean aluminum/steel cans, cardboard, paper, beverage cartons, and rigid plastic containers. Click here for a list of accepted materials.

Keep ‘em loose. Bagged recyclables are as good as trash (except for shredded paper – place in clear bag). If you collect recyclables in a bag, empty the bag into your cart or bin.

Caps on. Put caps back on plastic and metal bottles and containers (if possible). Remove caps from glass bottles and containers.

Clean and dry. Lightly rinse materials to remove food residue. If food cannot be removed with a light rinse, consider using a napkin or paper towel. If that will not work, please landfill the item.

Flatten boxes. This saves a lot of space in the trailer or truck.

Size matters. Anything smaller than a 3.5”x 5” post card cannot be handled by the processing facility and should be landfilled or composted. However, when a plastic cap is left on a plastic bottle, it doesget recycled – please leave the caps on the bottles!

Recycling pro tips

Pizza boxes can now be recycled! Even if the box is greasy. Please throw out any remaining food residue before placing it in your recycling bin or cart.

E-waste including TVs are not accepted at County solid waste convenience centers. You can recycle electronic waste at Buckman Road Recycling and Transfer Station or these local businesses. 

Glass bottles and containers can be recycled at drop-off locations, but not in your curbside cart or in the mixed recycling bin. Please make sure the glass is clean, but you don’t need to remove the labels. Recycle metal lids and caps separately, and place plastic lids and tempered glass (such as drinking glasses) in the garbage.

Compostable containers cannot be recycled. And unfortunately, most compostable packaging cannot be composted in your backyard either (they must be processed at an industrial composting facility, which our community doesn’t have). Please place these in the trash.

Paper cups, such as disposable coffee cups, are lined with plastic. This plastic coating makes them unrecyclable. Bring your own cup! Most coffee shops offer discounts for bringing your own mug.

Clamshell takeout containers are problematic at the recycling facility because they trap other materials inside of them. Please cut these in half before placing them in your recycling bin.

Although Styrofoam is recyclable, it requires highly specialized equipment that our recycling facility is not equipped with. However, most shipping stores accept Styrofoam packing peanuts. Call ahead to see if your local shipping store accepts them for recycling.

Plastic grocery bags can be recycled at some local grocery stores. Click here for a list of local businesses that accept plastic bag recycling, and click here for a list of additional soft plastics that can be recycled with your grocery bags (and some that cannot).

For more information

Contact Caitlin Weber with the County’s Sustainability Division at 505-995-9515 or cweber@santafecountynm.gov.

Download our recycling guidelines flyer for quick information on how to recycle right in Santa Fe County, available in both English and Spanish. Thank you Santa Fe County for recycling right!