Skip navigation

What Can Be Recycled


Translate This Page

Purple tinted top view photo of wadded paper in a tray

Steel & Aerosol Cans

  • Aerosol cans must be empty.
  • Labels are okay.
  • Remove plastic caps unless they are part of the can.
  • Spray nozzles are okay.


  • NO scrap metal
  • NO fuel canisters (camping tanks)
  • NO full or partially-full aerosol cans
  • Do NOT puncture cans


Purple tinted close up photo of a stack of cardboard


  • Flatten and cut to pieces no larger than 2 feet by 2 feet.
  • Only broken down boxes inside the cart will be collected for recycling.
  • Pizza boxes accepted, if not greased through to the other side.

  • Flatten or cut into pieces no larger than 2 feet by 2 feet.
  • Remove plastic bags, plastic film or wax paper bags.
  • Acceptable items include: Boxes for cereal, tissues, beverages, food, soap, etc.; Gift, shirt & shoe boxes; Hanging file folders; Paper egg cartons; Paper towel & toilet paper tubes; Frozen food boxes (but not the ones that have a waxy, white coating on the inside).

  • NO Foil-coated paperboard
  • NO Waxed cardboard

Purple tinted angled top view photo of glass bottles


  • Food & beverage glass bottles and jars only.
  • Remove lids.
  • Large metal lids can be recycled, but still must be removed.


  • NO Glassware (such as vases or drinking cups)
  • NO Window glass
  • NO Ceramics

Purple tinted angled top view photo of plastic bottles and bags


  • Rigid plastic bottles, jugs, jars, tubs, cups and containers marked with the #1 through #7 in the recycling symbols.
  • Examples include: Soda, water, shampoo, & soap bottles; milk, laundry detergent, & cat litter jugs; yogurt, sour cream, cottage cheese, & butter tubs; Peanut butter & mayonnaise jars; "To-go” & “take out” plastic drinking cups; Plastic trays like those used for microwave dinners; Clear "Clam-Shell” containers like those used to package strawberries, bakery goods & salads (remove as much of the price sticker from the plastic as possible); and Plastic egg cartons & cookie divider shells.

  • NO Plastic bags - Denver's #1 recycling contaminant.
  • NO Bubble wrap or envelopes with bubble wrap inside.
  • NO Candy or food wrappers. 
  • NO Cassettes, DVD's, CD's or plastic cases.
  • NO Containers larger than 3 gallons.
  • NO Garden hoses or plastic tubes.
  • NO Juice pouches.
  • NO "K-cups" or individual coffee creamers.
  • NO Plastic containers marked as “Compostable” or “PLA”.
  • NO Plastic flower pots.
  • NO Plastic shrink wrap
  • NO Plastic tubes (such as toothpaste or hair gel tubes).
  • NO Potato chip bags.
  • NO Styrofoam® or packing peanuts.
  • NO Toys.

Purple tinted top view photo of aluminum cans


  • Aluminum cans, foil, trays, and pie plates .
  • Remove as much food residue as possible.
  • Do not crush aluminum cans.

  • NO Foil bags (such as potato chip bags).
  • NO Foil "yogurt" lids.

Purple tinted top view photo of envelopes


  • All food and beverage cartons including: Milk (dairy, soy & almond); Juice; Cream; Egg white & egg substitute; Soup & broth; Protein drinks; Eggnog; Wine; Tofu; Small juice boxes; and Ice cream & frozen yogurt.
  • All cold paper cups and hot coffee cups: Paper cups must be clean and empty. Paper cups must be bare — all sleeves, lids, straws and stirring sticks must be removed.
  • Be sure to empty all food & liquid, and remove straws & caps.
  • Do not flatten cartons


  • Remove plastic bags and wrap.
  • Discard non-paper inserts such as magnets or sample packets.
  • Includes phone books. 

  • Window envelopes are okay to recycle.
  • Paperclips, stamps, staples, tape and sticky notes are okay.
  • Acceptable items include: Opened mail,  greeting cards (non-foiled coated), Postcards, index cards & file folders, Loose leaf & legal pad paper, Stationary, letterhead, copy & typing paper; Paper envelopes (plastic windows okay); and Brochures & glossy ads.

  • Remove food wrappings and any food.
  • Department store "non-glossy" type paper bags are okay, but remove rope handles.

NEW: We are NOT accepting any wrapping paper this holiday season and until further notice.

  • NO tissue paper, ribbon or bows.
  • NO bubble envelopes or Tyvek® (polyethylene fiber) envelopes, such as some overnight mailing envelopes.
  • NO shredded paper.
  • NO Paper plates.
  • NO Paperback or hardcover books.
  • NO Paper Towels, Tissues, or Napkins.


Quick Links

Download the Denver Recycles app for collection day reminders, a searchable Denver recycling guide, and a chance to test your recycling knowledge with our sorting game. 

Follow DenverRecycles
On Facebook
Follow DenverRecycles
On Twitter
Read Our WasteWise &
RecyclesRoundup Newsletters

WasteWise 2020 is here!
Check out the latest news on composting, recycling, and more.

Sign up to receive the Denver Recycles' Roundup in your email inbox each month!

Editors Note: The Denver Recycles’ Roundup is a periodic news column sponsored by Denver Recycles. It includes updates on seasonal and ongoing activities related to the city's recycling programs. Editors are invited to publish all or part of the column; however, we request that you run major edits by our staff to ensure the accuracy of information. Questions may be directed to Denver Recycles.