Responsible Recycling

In fall 2017, the Chinese government implemented a ban on certain recyclables being imported, essentially eliminating China as a market for many recyclables. For years, China has been the main importer of recyclable mixed paper and mixed plastics from King County, as well as internationally. New markets are being looked at for mixed paper and mixed plastics. Recyclables that are clean, not contaminated with food, liquids, garbage or anything that isn’t the same material as the main recyclable commodity, make the recyclables more valuable, more likely and able to be recycled.

This is an opportunity for the recycling industry to improve the overall system and look closely at how and what we are recycling. Recycling continues to be beneficial environmentally and economically. Residents in King County do a good job with recycling and should continue to recycle. 


1. Keep recyclables empty, clean and dry. No food or liquids in recycling!

To ensure recyclables are usable for recycling and to decrease contamination, make sure all recyclables are empty, clean and dry. Containers that previously contained food or liquid should be rinsed to remove food and liquid residue. Shake out excess liquid and air dry, if you can. Food and liquids in recyclables can allow mold to grow, which make the materials unacceptable for recycling.

Keep recyclables clean and dry

2. Customers should recycle right, according to your city’s and waste companies’ recycling guidelines.

Recycle only materials that are accepted by your city’s waste company. When in doubt, find out. Check your local recycling guidelines to ensure you’re putting the right materials in your recycle cart. Put materials loose in the cart. Please do not bag or box recyclables. Plastic bags jam up the machinery at the recycling centers. Bagged recyclables can also be confused for trash because workers can’t see inside. Focus on these top five categories of empty, clean, and dry materials for recycling: 1. Paper, 2. Cardboard, 3. Plastic bottles and containers, 4. Glass bottles and jars, 5. Metal cans (aluminum, tin and steel).

Recycle right

3. Keep recycling. Recycling creates new products that offset the use of virgin materials, such as petroleum and wood.

Recycling is as important as ever, because it allows existing items to be made into new products. Making products from recycled content decreases the need to extract new materials, such as petroleum and wood, from the environment. Keep recyclables out of the garbage.

Don't put recyclables in the trash

4. Prevent and reduce waste by choosing reusable items and opting out of excess paper and packaging when you can.

Preventing and reducing the amount of waste generated is the most beneficial action you can take. Using less things costs less and has less of an impact on the environment.

Opting out of paper mailings and paper bills is a good first step to decreasing the amount of waste paper you generate. There are several services available locally that allow you to opt out of junk mailphone bookscredit card offers and catalogs. Choose e-billing where available.

Choosing reusable items over single-use/disposable ones helps, too! Bringing your own bag for groceries to the store, bringing your own utensils for meals on the go, using a refillable bottle, cup, or mug are all ways to decrease the amount of waste you generate. These small changes add up over time. While single-use items are convenient, we use them for a short amount of time and then dispose of them.

Prevent and reduce waste

5. Learn more about recycling in your area by checking with your city or waste collection company.

The City of Newcastle contracts with Waste Management for solid waste collection services. Learn more about the WM services at You can also learn about recycling at King County recycling and transfer station/drop-boxes at

The city contracts with Waste Management for collection services

Information via the King County Responsible Recycling Communications Consortium working in partnership with the Responsible Recycling Task Force. Learn more at

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