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Notice: The City is currently discussing potential changes to the recycling program with an anticipated effective date of January 2020. Visit our Recycling Changes web page to learn more.


The City of Tacoma offers curbside recycling service to residents, multi-family tenants, and commercial customers. We are committed to sustainably managing our waste streams so that we send less waste to the landfill. View our recycling poster.

Tacoma Recycling Guidelines:

Paper Replace


  • Newspapers, magazines, catalogs, phone books
  • Clean paper bags (handles are OK; remove receipts)
  • White and colored paper (lined, copier, computer; staples are ok)
  • Mail and envelopes (any color; window envelopes are ok)

Do not include: Paper towels; napkins; coffee cups; paper plates; wet, greasy, or soiled paper; paper with wax or plastic coating - These are not recyclable and should go in the garbage.

Did you know? Paper coffee cups are NOT recyclable in Tacoma due to the plastic lining inside, and should go in the garbage. Learn more.

cardboard 2


Flatten all cardboard.
Remove all packing materials and liners.

  • Corrugated cardboard boxes
  • Paperboard boxes (cereal boxes, cracker boxes, shoe boxes, etc.)

Do not include: Greasy pizza boxes, waxed cardboard, or painted cardboard - These are not recyclable and should go in the garbage.

Did you know? The Recycle Center at 3510 S. Mullen Street accepts all sizes and quantities of clean cardboard for recycling free of charge.

plastics 2


Empty and rinse all plastic.
Plastic screw-on lids can stay on.

  • Plastic bottles (plastic soda and water bottles; shampoo bottles, etc.)
  • Plastic jugs (milk, juice, detergent, etc.)
  • Plastic jars (peanut butter, sauce, mayonnaise; etc.)
  • Plastic tubs (yogurt, sour cream, cottage cheese, etc.; remove flat snap-on lids)
  • Plastic bags (grocery, department store bags, dry cleaning bags (place all into one bag and tie closed—no loose bags)

Do not include: Plastic film, food wrap, drink cups and lids, straws, “clamshell” or "take-out" containers—These are not recyclable and should go in the garbage.

Did you know? Flat plastic snap-on lids go in the garbage, including lids from hot and iced coffee cups, yogurt, cottage cheese, margarine, hummus, etc. Like loose plastic bags, these items tend to jam machinery and cause sorting problems.

metal replace


Empty and rinse all food residue.
  • Aluminum beverage cans
  • Metal cans (soup, vegetables, pet food; ok to leave lid attached)
  • Empty aerosol cans (hairspray, cleaners, spray paint; must be completely empty)

Do not include: metal bottle caps and lids, unattached metal can lids, wire coat hangers—These are not recyclable and should go in the garbage.

Take to Recycle Center: Scrap metals (large and small metal items, including metal lids) are accepted at the Recycle Center at 3510 S. Mullen St.


Did you know? Aerosol cans that are not completely empty are considered hazardous waste and should be taken to the Household Hazardous Waste Center, 3510 S. Mullen Street.

Hypodermic needles, or “sharps” should be placed in a rigid plastic container (such as a detergent jug), taped shut, and dropped off at the Household Hazardous Waste Center at 3510 S. Mullen Street.



Empty and rinse all glass.
Recyclable glass must be separated into its own bin.

  • Glass bottles (soda, juice, milk, beer, wine bottles)
  • Glass jars (soup, sauces, jams, etc.)

Do not include: Broken glass, windows, light bulbs, bakeware, glass dishes, mirrors, ceramics, vases, drinking glasses, eyeglasses - These are not recyclable and should go in the garbage.​

Did you know? Regular (incandescent) light bulbs should be placed in the garbage. Fluorescent light bulbs and tubes should be taken to the Household Hazardous Waste Facility at 3510 S. Mullen Street.



Hazardous Waste










Latex Paint




  • Seal household (alkaline) batteries inside a clear plastic bag and place in curbside glass recycling bin, or drop off at the Recycle Center.
  • Drop off other types of batteries, including vehicle, button, lithium, and nickel-cadmium at the Household Hazardous Waste Facility, 3510 S. Mullen St.

Household Cleaners, and Hazardous Waste

  • Leftover household products that contain toxic ingredients require special disposal to avoid harming human health or the environment.
  • Household hazardous waste (HHW) should never be poured down the drain, onto the ground, into storm sewers or thrown in the trash.
  • Dispose of hazardous items such as household cleaners, garden chemicals, oil-based paint, motor oil, etc. safely. Do NOT place them in your curbside recycling or garbage. These materials should be taken to the Household Hazardous Waste Facility at the Tacoma Recovery & Transfer Center at 3510 S. Mullen St.

Latex Paint

  • To dispose of leftover latex paint, leave the can open to dry (protected from children and animals).
  • Once dry, remove the dried lid from the dried paint can and put both in your garbage. 

  • Tip: For larger amounts of latex paint, harden and dry by adding cat litter to the can. Once dried, put in your garbage.

Did you know?
A full list of acceptable materials you can take to the Household Hazardous Waste Facility free of charge is available here.

Helpful Links:



Collection Schedule

Setout Guidelines


The Tacoma Recycle Center

Drop-off recycling is available for free at the Tacoma Recycle Center. You can drop off any recyclable items, including those that cannot be recycled in curbside bins due to size or type of material.

What can you take to the Recycle Center?


recycle center      Location:
Tacoma Recovery & Transfer Center
3510 S. Mullen St.
Tacoma, WA 98402

For questions or to schedule a group tour:
(253) 593-7725

Seven days a week: 8 AM-6 PM

Drop-off at the Recycle Center is free, and all recyclables must be separated.


Recycle Frequently Asked Questions


Where Does Our Recycling Go?

Commingled recycling collected by the City of Tacoma is sorted at JMK Fibers. This facility, located at the Tacoma Tideflats, uses both state-of-the art equipment and people to sort items and remove any garbage. Once sorted, the recyclables are baled, sold and turned into new products. JMK Fibers is owned and operated by Waste Management, Inc.

Recyclables that are collected at the Tacoma Recycle Center are pre-sorted as they are placed into the bins there. Then the items are baled and sold to make new products. 

For a peek at what goes in the sorting facility, watch this short video on YouTube.

Why does recycling need to be clean, dry, and empty?

In order for our recyclables to be made into new products, they must meet quality standards. Manufacturers demand clean, dry, good-quality materials. Recycling works when done right! When a dirty or non-recyclable item is added into the bin, it creates a big problem. This can “contaminate” the clean recyclables and make them unmarketable. Just a few dirty or non-recyclable items can ruin a whole load. It’s also important to remove packing materials and plastic liners (as in cereal boxes) because these are difficult to remove in an automated system. Recycling right reduces processing costs and improves sales. Please follow Tacoma’s recycling guidelines to help Tacoma’s goal of zero “contamination.”

How do the new international regulations on recycling affect Tacoma?

The majority of Tacoma’s recyclables are sold overseas, mainly in Asia, where countries have adopted strict policies regarding material quality. Materials that do not meet the new requirements are rejected. There is low to no tolerance for dirty or improperly sorted items. More than ever, it’s important to emphasize quality over quantity and the need for clean recyclables. In the recent past, materials were marketed at a profit. Now as a result of the new policies, the City of Tacoma is facing increased costs to maintain its recycling program.

Who do I contact for questions about recycling in Tacoma?

Contact Solid Waste Management at (253) 502-2100 or solidwaste@cityoftacoma.org.