A woman holding a green tub with the recycling logo, standing next to three recycling bins for separating recyclables

Recycling waste involves taking an item and changing it, often through a manufacturing process, so it can be used to create new materials and items. Some items are recycled into the same material, such as aluminum cans being remanufactured into new aluminum cans. Some items are recycled into a different material, such as used paper being processed into toilet paper or other types of paper. In some case, certain materials from an item are recycled, such as the lead in car batteries, gold in printed circuit boards and mercury in thermometers.

Recycling helps decrease the amount of useful materials taking up space in Missouri's landfills. Recycling is also a great way to prevent pollution, reduce energy use and reduce greenhouse gas emissions caused by harvesting new raw materials. In some cases, recycling prevents contamination from hazardous materials, such as the lead in car batteries and leaded glass.

There are several ways you can recycle.

  • Buy products made from recycled materials. Not only are you helping to reduce the amount of new resources needed to make new products, purchasing an item made of recycled materials, like a jacket made from recycled plastic, helps develop the market for recycling plastic.
  • Buy products that can be recycled or are packaged in recyclable materials. Recyclable materials include many kinds of glass, paper, cardboard, metal, plastic, tires, batteries and electronics. Look for the recycling symbol on plastic products, which is the universal recycling symbol (three chasing arrows forming a triangle) with a number inside. The numbered code identifies what type of plastic resin was used to make the product. However, just because the container has this code does not mean it can be easily recycled locally. You will need to check with your local collection center to find out which plastic they can recycle.
  • Collect recyclable items and take them to a collection center or drop-off site. Check collection centers and curbside pickup services to see what they accept and begin collecting these materials. These can include metal cans, newspapers, paper products, glass, plastic and oil. Put the recyclable materials in a bin at a recycle center or in your single stream recycling bin at home. Be sure your recycling bin is rinsed and dry and does not contain food, oil or other waste the recycler cannot accept, which could cause the load to be rejected and sent to a landfill. Please be sure plastic bags and hoses are not included in your recycling bin. They are referred to as tanglers and can stop a recyclables processing line and cause mechanical problems.
  • Compost your food and yard waste. Compost is a natural fertilizer that can be used to feed your flowers and vegetable garden, improve the soil around trees and shrubs and, when screened, create a better seed-starting mix or lawn top-dressing. By composting food and yard waste, you are keeping these materials out of our landfills, where they take up valuable space and release methane, a greenhouse gas. For more information about how to compost at home, review the department's Homeowners’ Composting Guide - PUB0183

For more ideas about ways to recycle, visit Green Tips for Every Occasion or watch the department's Talkin' Trash - The Buy Recycled Loop video. To find local contractors, vendors and drop-off locations offering recycling, reuse and disposal services, visit the Missouri Materials Management Directory.