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Additional Recycling Information


Denver Recycles, a program of the City & County of Denver Public Works Department Solid Waste Management, is only authorized to provide services to residential homes of seven or fewer units and our own municipal facilites. Denver Recycles is not authorized to provide services to commercial properties such as businesses and apartment communities. 

Denver Recycles, a program of the City & County of Denver Public Works Department Solid Waste Management, is only authorized to provide services to residential homes of seven or fewer units and our own municipal facilites. Denver Recycles is not authorized to provide services to commercial properties such as businesses and apartment communities. 

For questions on if a specific material is recyclable in your purple cart, please contact us at 311 (720-913-1311) or


  1. Place all cardboard inside your recycling cart. With Denver Recycles’ automated collection system, only materials inside the purple carts can be lifted up by the mechanical arm and emptied into the top of the recycling truck.
  2. Refrain from stacking cardboard against your recycling cart or on the ground. Cardboard left outside of your recycling cart will not get recycled, even if it is flattened and stacked next to your cart. Instead, it will either be left behind or picked up as extra trash and sent to the landfill. Remember, it’s what’s on the inside that counts!
  3. Flatten and break down all boxes into pieces no larger than 2 feet by 2 feet. To ensure that you recycle all the cardboard you can while still leaving room for other valuable recyclable materials in your purple cart, please follow our simple guidelines for recycling boxes:
  • Flatten and break down all cardboard boxes.
  • Assure that the flattened and broken down cardboard lays flat in your cart so it doesn’t take up usable space; or
  • Leave cardboard out of your cart until your recycling day. On your recycling day, lay it flat in the cart on top of the rest of your recyclables and close the lid to at least a 45 degree angle. This will help ensure that your cardboard doesn’t get stuck in the cart and will enable you to fit more cardboard in your purple cart.

3 diagrams of how to recycle cardboard


  • Your purple cart is your collection container. Cardboard that is left outside of your recycling cart will not be collected for recycling.
  • Clean pizza boxes are okay to recycle. Greasy pizza boxes should not go in your purple cart.
  • Following these simple guidelines maximizes space in your cart, prevents cardboard from getting jammed in your cart, ensures all your cardboard is recycled, and maximizes the efficiency of our collections so that we can better serve you.

image of various types of plastic bottlesimage of various types of plastic trays and tubsRecycle rigid plastic bottles, jugs, jars, tubs, cups, trays and containers marked with the # 1 through #7 in the recycling symbols in the Denver Recycles program.  Please empty all liquids and food when possible. Remove plastic caps, lids, straws and foil tops as these items are not accepted for recycling.


  • Soda, water, shampoo, and soap bottles
  • Milk, detergent and cat litter jugs
  • Yogurt, sour cream, cottage cheese and butter tubs
  • Peanut butter and mayo jars
  • "To-go" or "take out" plastic drinking cups
  • Plastic trays like those used for microwave dinners
  • "Clam-shell" containers like those used to package strawberries, blueberries and bakery cookies
  • Plastic containers like those used to package salad mixes

If a plastic item doesn't have a recycling number on the bottom, how do I know what kind of plastic it is?

The resin identification code isn't required by federal law and is absent from some pieces of plastic especially those that aren't easily recyclable like dishes, toys or bottle caps.

Remember, only plastic containers with a resin code of #1 through #7 are is accepted for recycling in the Denver Recycles program.


  • NO Plastic bags
  • NO Plastic lids or caps
  • NO Styrofoam
  • NO Shrink wrap
  • NO Toys
  • NO Tubes
  • NO "K-cups" or individual coffee creamers (too small to process)
  • NO Plastics marked as “PLA”, compostable, or made from plant based materials
  • NO Plastic containers larger than 3 gallons in size

image of group of cartonsThe Denver Recycles program accepts food and beverage cartons. Please empty all liquids and food and remove plastic caps and straws (they are not accepted for recycling). Do not flatten cartons before recycling.


  • Milk (dairy, soy and almond)
  • Juice
  • Cream
  • Egg white and egg substitute
  • Soup and broth
  • Protein drinks
  • Eggnog
  • Wine
  • Tofu
  • Small juice boxes
  • Ice cream and frozen yogurt


  • Juice pouches
  • Take-out cartons
  • Paper cups
  • Paper plates

Denver Recycles asks residents to make sure that bottles, jars, pie tins, and other containers are empty before putting them in with your recycling. Containers do not need to be completely free of all food residue. Generally, a quick rinse is sufficient. Thicker food residue in containers, like peanut butter jars, might need a little more rinsing or even a wiping out of the food residue. As long as containers are empty and free of most food residue they are acceptable for recycling.

What Are the Benefits of Recycling?


image of Earth in hands

  • The average American uses seven trees a year in paper, wood, and other products made from trees. This amounts to about 2 billion trees per year! [“50 Simple Thins Kids Can Do To Save The Earth” by The Earth Work Group]
  • More than 100 million trees’ worth of bulk mail arrives in American mailboxes each year.  That’s the equivalent of deforesting the entire Rocky Mountain National Park every four months. [Rocky Mountain News, 4/21/07]
  • If an average family of four were to recycle all of its mixed plastic waste, nearly 340 pounds of carbon equivalent emissions could be reduced each year.  [U.S. EPA]
  • Currently, the U.S. recycles approximately 32 percent of its waste which saves an equivalent amount of greenhouse gases to removing 39.6 million cars from the road.  Increasing the recycling rate to 35 percent would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an additional 5.2 Million Metric Tons of Carbon Dioxide Equivalent.  [U.S. EPA]
  • Recycling all of its office paper waste for one year, an office building of 7,000 workers could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 546 Metric Tons of Carbon Dioxide Equivalent. This is the equivalent to taking nearly 400 cars off the road that year. [U.S. EPA]
  • Enough plastic bottles are thrown away each year to circle the earth four times. [“The Recycler’s Handbook” by Earth Work Group]
  • Recycling one ton of aluminum saves approximately 10 cubic yards of landfill space. [U.S. EPA]  
  • Making new aluminum cans from used cans takes 95 percent less energy than making cans from raw aluminum bauxite ore. [Reynolds Metal Company
  • One ton of recycled office paper saves approximately: 4,100 Kwh of energy; 9 barrels of oil; or 54 million BTU's of energy.  [U.S. EPA]  
  • Recycling glass reduces related air pollution by 20% and water pollution by 50%. [Glass Packaging Institute]
  • Recycling one ton of newsprint saves an estimated 7,000 gallons of water.  [U.S. EPA]
  • Recycling benefits the air and water by creating a net reduction in ten major categories of air pollutants and eight major categories of water pollutants. [National Recycling Coalition]
  • Public sector investment in local recycling programs pays great dividends by creating private sector jobs. For every job collecting recyclables, there are 26 jobs in processing the materials and manufacturing them into new products.  [National Recycling Coalition]
  • Recycling creates 1.1 million U.S. jobs, $236 billion in gross annual sales and $37 billion in annual payrolls. [National Recycling Coalition]