When in doubt, recycle it!

Our goal is to keep this city beautiful and help make it easy for residents to do the same. Use this guide to determine which materials are considered recyclable and which are not.

Any item placed in your recycling cart will be sorted by a recycling processor that will determine the type of material. As long as the item isn’t on the “Not Acceptable” list, place it in the blue cart and we’ll take care of the rest.

Recyclables - Urban & Rural

Paper & Cardboard

  • Newspapers including inserts, newsprint publications
  • Magazines including catalogs & glossy paper
  • Junk mail & regular mail including envelops
  • White/colored office paper, binder paper, gift paper (no plastic/foil lining)
  • Shredded paper (bagged)
  • Telephone books & catalogs
  • Cardboard
  • Cereal/cracker boxes
  • Brown paper bags
  • Paper egg cartons


  • Glass bottles & jars
  • Food containers
  • Beverage containers
  • Miscellaneous glass

Cans & Foil

  • Aluminum cans
  • Empty aerosol cans
  • Aluminum foil
  • Tin, steel, & bi-metal cans
  • Metal food trays
  • Bottle caps
  • Metal lids & caps from jars
  • Empty, dry paint cans
  • Miscellaneous metals


  • Containers (any color, numbers 1-7)
  • Water & soda bottles
  • Detergent & shampoo bottles
  • Plastic bags (bundled)

Not Acceptable

  • Hazardous waste
  • Styrofoam
  • Carbon paper or photographs
  • Window glass
  • Mirrors
  • Light bulbs
  • Fluorescent lights
  • Computers
  • Electronics
  • Batteries
  • Needles/SHARPS
  • Animal waste
  • Food scraps
  • Used diapers
  • Landfill waste

Organics - Urban Only

Please do not place any recycling or garbage in your green cart. Everything in the green cart needs to be compostable. Animal waste is not accepted as green waste.

Yard Trimmings

  • Grass
  • Leaves
  • Weeds
  • Flowers
  • Brush
  • Small branches
  • Prunings (less than 4 feet long and 6 inches in diameter)
  • Unpainted scrap lumber
  • Fruit tree droppings
  • Trees (cut to fit in cart)

Not Acceptable

Our organics truck has a video camera to monitor containers as they are emptied. Containers contaminated with trash will receive a service charge per incident. Repeat offenders will have containers removed.

  • Hazardous waste
  • Plastic, glass, cans or paper (recyclables)
  • Dirt or rocks
  • Poison oak, bamboo, palm fronds, cypress or ice plant
  • Animal waste
  • Food scraps
  • Diapers
  • Landfill waste

Landfill - Urban & Rural

If we can not accept a material in the blue (recycle) container or green (organics) container then it will be placed in the gray/black (landfill) container. This also includes contaminated materials. Contamination can make any recyclable material ineligible for recycling. Some materials, like metals, can be recycled even with high levels of contamination.

Hazardous Materials

We do not accept household hazardous waste. The San Luis Obispo IWMA operates hazardous waste disposal facilities throughout the county for no-charge disposal. Please visit iwma.com for locations and information. Items which cannot be placed in our containers for collection:

Not Acceptable

  • Oil
  • Used oil filters
  • Electronic waste
  • Batteries
  • Fluorescent lights
  • Televisions
  • Pesticides
  • Paint
  • Cleansers
  • Hot coals or ashes
  • Acids
  • Drugs
  • Explosives
  • Caustics
  • Poisons
  • Pool chemicals
  • Flammable liquids
  • Cathode ray tubes
  • Engine coolant
  • Pesticides