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The city of Seattle prohibits recyclable plastic cups, glass and plastic bottles and jars, and aluminum and tin cans in the garbage. Only put recyclables that are accepted in the mixed recycling bin, sorting waste properly is essential to our community’s successful recycling system.

What is acceptable

All items must be empty, clean and dry:

  • Plastic bottles, jars & jugs
  • Plastic dairy tubs (yogurt, sour cream, etc.)
  • Plastic plant pots
  • Glass bottles & jars (reusable glass items purchased with University funds should go to UW Surplus)
  • Steel / tin cans
  • Aluminum cans (do not crush)
  • Aluminum foil & trays 
  • Milk, soy milk & juice cartons
  • Aseptic food packages (AKA Tetra Pak)
  • Plastic cups
  • Non-compostable paper cups

What about the number in the chasing arrows?

The number in the chasing arrows on many plastic food containers identifies the plastic resin content, but doesn’t indicate if/how an item should be recycled. We recommend to ignore those numbers and use the guide above.

What does clean, empty and dry recycling mean?

Containers need to have no food or liquids in them. Give containers a good rinse and let them dry, or wipe them clean with a napkin. Leftover food causes mold to spread to other recyclables and liquids can ruin the fibers in paper, making it harder or unable to be recycled. If you can’t get an item clean, put it in the garbage.

What is not acceptable

Waste reduction tips

  • Reconsider your use of single-use containers.
  • Bring your own resuable water bottle to use at water filling stations.
  • Plan ahead to avoid buying prepackaged food and drink.