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The City of Tacoma is a national leader in recycling. This is in large part thanks to you as well as our state-of-the-art curbside and self-haul recycling programs. As more residents and businesses participate by sorting clean recyclable items from their garbage, the better able we are to sell quality, uncontaminated recyclables on the market, generating more revenue to support solid waste management and other initiatives.


Importance of "Clean" Recycling

Having clean, quality materials is what keeps costs down and recycling working. Recently, strict new recycling requirements were introduced by China ("National Sword" recycling imports policy). This means that the guidelines determining what is recyclable may be changing. 


One thing that will not change, however, is the need for quality over quantity and the importance of recycling "clean," appropriate items. Our goal is zero contamination. You can help by making sure that your recyclables are clean, dry, and empty. Empty means no liquids in containers, no plastic inside paper, and no paper inside plastic! When in doubt, throw it out. By recycling only clean materials and paying attention to what is accepted in your blue recycle bin (single family and multi-family residential), you help ensure that our recycling stream is uncontaminated and has high value in the marketplace.


Watch this Urban Green video on recycling on YouTube.



Although no changes are currently planned for Tacoma's recycling program, some adjustments may happen in the near future. If changes are needed to comply with new quality standards, the City will notify our customers and provide information. To stay current with changes, please check the online list periodically.


Where Does Our Recycling Go?

Our recycling goes to the JMK Material Recovery Facility located in the Tacoma tideflats. There it is sorted over 6,000 feet of conveyor belt. Though the sorting process is automated with state-of-the-art equipment, people work to pull out trash and other contamination by hand, so it is important to only recycle clean, appropriate materials. Once these materials are sorted, they are sold and then turned into new products.


Learn more about what items we collect curbside and what we accept at the Recycle Center.


Watch this EnviroShort video "Where Does Our Recycling Go?" on YouTube.