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Plastic Bags Contaminate Recycling

NEVER place plastic bags in your purple recycling cart!

no plastic bags in purple carts

Recycling Service Guidelines

Please follow these service guidelines for participation in the Denver Recycles program. If you need futher assistance, please call 311 (720-913-1311), visit online at 311 Help Request or PocketGov.

Sign up for recycling services at New Customer Signup. Recycling is free to all City of Denver Solid Waste Management customers.

Cardboard Recycling Steps:
 
  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

Remember:

  • 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.

Place only items listed on our What Can Be Recycled list in your recycling cart.

Please do not overfill your cart or stack materials on or around it as this can cause litter. Materials left outside the cart, including cardboard, will not be collected for recycling.

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.

Examples of accepted items:

  • 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

Materials not accepted:

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

Learn more about how cartons are recycled...

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.

Examples of acceptable items:

  • 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.

Materials not accepted:

  • 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

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

Cart Questions

Maximize space in your cart by flattening all cardboard boxes and then lay them flat across the top of the rest of your recyclables and then close the lid.  This will help ensure that cardboard doesn't get stuck in your cart and will enable you to fit more cardboard in your cart.

If you still regularly have significant amounts of extra recycling that will not fit in your cart, please call 311 (720-913-1311), visit online at 311 Help Request or PocketGov to see about "UPSIZING" to a larger recycling cart or receiving a second recycle cart if you already have the larger cart size.

DAMAGED CART:  If your cart is damaged, please call 311 (720-913-1311), visit online at 311 Help Request or PocketGov. 

LOST OR MISSING CART:  If your purple recycling cart has gone missing after your collection:
 
Please check the service area to make sure your cart has not simply rolled away from your normal collection point.
  1. You may use your assigned cart's serial number to help locate which cart is yours.
  2. Check with your neighbors to see if they have mistakenly pulled in your recycling cart.
  3. Call 311 to let us know your cart is missing so we can order you a replacement recycling cart.
Please do not sign up online as a “New Customer” to order a replacement recycling cart.  This may result in a greater delay in getting you a replacement recycling cart.
 
To find out your cart serial number, please call 311 (720-913-1311), visit online at 311 Help Request or PocketGov.

MOVING IN?

  1. Find out your recycling service information at View My Service Schedule.
  2. Sign up for recycling services at New Customer Signup.  Be sure to check the box if you already have a recycling cart at your address and do not need one delivered.
  3. There is no charge for recycling services provided by Denver Solid Waste Management, with the exception of the composting collection service (green carts) which is a fee based program.
  4. If you have a large amount of leftover moving boxes, please contact us to make arrangements for a special cardboard recycling collection.

MOVING OUT?

  1. Contact us prior to your move so we can update the account information.
  2. Leave any City issued containers behind.  Black trash barrels, purple recycling carts, and green composting carts are the property of the City & County of Denver.  Each barrel and cart is assigned by serial numbers to an exact address.
  3. Bring all containers back onto your property before you move.  Do not leave containers in the street or alley.
  4. Take any personal trash containers with you.

NOTES:  Denver Solid Waste Management only services residential homes of seven or fewer units that are located in the City and County of Denver.  If you reside in a larger apartment or condominium property, please contact your landlord or HOA for collection information.

Each recycling cart has a unique serial number which is assigned to a specific address.
 
The recycling cart serial number is printed on the front of each cart in white numbering. 
 
  • For carts starting with "05" through "13" (65 gallon carts) and then a space, the last five numbers are the cart's serial number.  For example in this photo to the right the cart serial number would be "78739."image of where cart serial number is on cart
  • For carts starting with "95" (95 gallon carts) and then a space, the six numbers after the 95 are the cart's serial number. For example a cart reading "95 912345" the cart serial number would be "912345."


To find out your cart serial number, please call 311 (720-913-1311), visit online at 311 Help Request or PocketGov.

Approximate cart measurements are as follows:

65 gallon = Cart weighs 32 lbs. empty

      Height = 42”, Width = 27”, Depth = 32”

95 gallon = Cart weighs 40 lbs. empty

       Height = 46”, Width = 30”, Depth = 36”

All trash, recycling and compost carts must be stored on your property in between collections. You may set your carts out as early as the night before your collection day and then return your carts to your property within a day after collection occurs.

Keeping carts out of the alley and off the streets will:

  • Ensure each neighbor takes responsibility for their own waste and carts
  • Ensure each neighbor has access to the public right-of-way
  • Improve the appearance of the alley
  • Prevent cart loss, damage, misuse and vandalism
  • Minimize recycling and compost contamination (non-acceptable items can contaminate entire loads)
  • Reduce litter and the potential for illegal dumping
  • Discourage waste scavengers in your neighborhood

It is your responsibility to manage and care for your city-issued carts. Take pride in your neighborhood and bring your carts back. 
 

 

 

Denver Recycles reserves the right to remove recycling carts that are improperly used. Improper use includes trash in carts, carts left in the public right-of-way (including the alley), abuse or destruction of carts outside of normal wear and tear, and other uses deemed inappropriate by the City.

In order for Denver Recycles automated truck to be able to empty your cart, it must be set out in the correct location.  To learn where to set your cart on your service days, look up your address at View My Service Schedule or call 311.

image of carts set out at curb 2 feet apartCURB SET OUT

Place your cart in the street with its wheels up against the curb and the front of the cart facing the street. Leave at least 2 feet from any obstructions.

 

image of cart set out in alley 2 feet away from dumpster

ALLEY SET OUT

Place your cart in the alley with the front of your cart facing towards the alley and at least 2 feet from any obstructions including your garage, dumpsters or cars. Do not block access to your neighbor's driveway, gate or garage.

image of carts set out in alley 2 feet apart

  • Dumpster-side alley set out - Place your cart on the same side of the alley that the trash dumpsters are located.
  • Even-sided alley set out - Place your cart on the side of the alley with even numbered addresses.
  • Odd-side alley set out - Place your cart on the side of the alley with odd numbered addresses.

image of alarm clock at 7 AMThe time a driver arrives to empty your recycling cart depends on many factors and may not always be  the same. This is why it is important to set out your cart by no later than 7 AM, as it ensures your cart will be ready for collection no matter what time in the day the driver comes.  Carts may be set out as early as the night prior to your collection day and should be returned to your property within a day after collection has occurred.

We provide every other week collection.  Call 311 (720-913-1311) or visit View My Service Schedule to determine your recycling collection schedule.

What do I do when my collection is on the same day as my scheduled street sweeping?

When your collection day and street sweeping day are both scheduled for the same day you have three options for setting out your containers.

image of a street sweeper
Option 1: Set your containers on the apron (edge) of your driveway.
  • Your containers should be placed on the apron of the driveway only when collection days conflict with designated street sweeping days.
  • Make sure that containers are as close to the street as possible and not on the sidewalk.  If containers are placed too far away from the street the automated collection trucks will not be able to reach them.
  • The handle of the container should be facing away from the street.
  • Make sure that your containers are at least 2 feet from any obstructions such as other containers, lampposts, trees or mailbox posts.
image of trash cart at end of driveway

Option 2: Set your containers off the street on the edge of the curb-line.

  • Your containers should be placed off the street only when collection days conflict with designated street sweeping days.
  • Make sure that containers are as close to the street as possible and not on the sidewalk.  If containers are placed too far away from the street, the automated collection trucks will not be able to reach them.
  • Make sure that containers are at least 2 feet from any obstructions such as other containers, lampposts, trees or mailbox posts.
image of recycle cart and trash can off curb

Option 3: Set your containers on the opposite side of your street.

  • Your containers should be placed on the opposite side of your street only when collection days conflict with designated street sweeping days.
  • Container wheels should be against the curb and the handle of the container should be facing away from the street.
  • Make sure that your recycling containers are at least 2 feet from any obstructions such as other containers, lampposts, trees or mailbox posts.
  • Collection trucks will run both sides of the street on overlapping collection/street sweeping days.
image of recycle and trash cart curbside
 
Moving your containers off the street on sweeping days will reduce the in & out "snaking" by the sweepers and enable Public Works to keep your street clean.
 

 

Replacement Decal for Recycling Cart Lid

Has time and weather washed out or made it hard to read the decal on the lid of your recycling cart? If so, we can mail you an updated decal that you can apply to your purple cart.

image of recycle cart lid label

To get a recycling cart lid decal, complete the online request or call 311 (720-913-1311).