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The Recycling Myth

A common misconception people have about recycling is they think it means placing items in their recycling bin—often, as much as possible. However, recycling is actually a system of collecting and processing used materials that still have value, in order to transform them into new products. This means not everything is recyclable. And just because a product has a recycling symbol on the bottom does not mean it’s recyclable. So, why is it important to debunk the recycling myth? Though most of us are well-intentioned, when we put materials in the bin that don’t belong, we’re actually contaminating the recycling stream, which negatively impacts our environment and economy. We need your help to recycle right!

What Can Be Recycled?

Only the following materials can be recycled. Think of them as the “Big 4”. Everything else should be placed in your trash. If you aren’t sure, remember this phrase: “When in doubt, throw it out!” LCSWMA will transform discarded waste into renewable energy.

This includes any size material consisting of a fluted corrugated sheet, like shipping boxes, packing boxes, CLEAN pizza boxes (no grease or food remnants), etc. Flatten all boxes and remove packaging including Styrofoam, peanuts, bubble wrap and plastic liners. Do NOT put paperboard (cereal boxes, shoe boxes), newsprint or junk mail in the bin.

This includes plastic bottles, jars, jugs and anything else with a neck. Throw away the lids and rinse out any residue. All other plastic material is considered trash. Ignore the numbers, as they don’t indicate if something is recyclable. Do NOT put plastic bags, toys, buckets, packaging, Styrofoam, hosing, furniture, or other plastic items in the bin.

This includes all food and beverage cans made from aluminum or steel. Throw away the lids and rinse out any residue. Do NOT put metal hangers, cooking pots and pans or other scrap metal like foil and pie plates in the bin.

This includes clear, green and brown glass bottles and jars. Throw away the lids and rinse out any residue. Do NOT put light bulbs, dishes, glassware, window or automotive glass, vases or any other glass material in the bin.

Visit for a list of locations that accept a variety of other recyclable materials.

Where Should I Take My Recycling?

We do offer 24-hour recycling drop-off centers at each of our three Lancaster facilities: Transfer Station Complex, Lancaster Waste-to-Energy Facility or Frey Farm Landfill. Residents can bring any of the “Big 4” (see above).


Each municipality (city, township or borough) within Lancaster County is responsible for your curbside recycling. If you live in Dauphin County, please contact the Dauphin County Recycling Center for more information about your local recycling program.

Contact your local municipal office and/or trash hauler for the following:

  • Recycling bins (new or replacement)

  • Complete list of materials you can recycle

  • Municipal drop-off locations

  • Pick-up days and times

  • Other questions about recycling