Recycling information

Did you know that much of our collected recycling (especially plastics) gets discarded in the trash?  Although we like to do our bit to help the planet, placing anything that may foul up the recycling machines (known as “tanglers”) or contaminate the recycling will automatically result in the recycling being trashed.

Here are  some distressingly common recycling “DON’Ts.”


  • Any items inside a plastic bagPlastic-bagged recyclables account for most of the City’s recycling contaminants. Machines cannot open bags to extract items so always place recyclables loose in the recycling container.
  • Any plastics that can squished, squeezed or wrapped, including plastic bags, bubble wrap, plastic wrap, and packing peanuts.
  • Styrofoam in any form, including packing materials, clamshells, and fast food containers
  • Plastics contaminated with food such as fast food containers.
  • Non-packaging plastics such as plastic utensils and pens
  • Plastic bottles used for motor oil, pesticides or herbicides.
  • Per their outreach materials, Baltimore City pretty much only recycles plastics that are bottle-shaped (mouth narrower than body) and clean.

See a list of items and their recycling status from the city website


  • Paper contaminated with food, grease, or another material.  This includes
    pizza boxes, fast food containers, used napkins, used tissues, used paper towels.


  • Broken glassof any type, window glass, mirrors, and bottles that are not empty or not clean, ceramics.
  • Basically clean (rinsed) food bottles are OK, otherwise trash it.

City Educational Campaign

DPW Launches “Feet on the Street” Educational Campaign to Reduce Recycling  The Baltimore City Department of Public Works has launched (as of 2/2023 maybe not yet implemented)  a recycling campaign to ensure that residents are recycling the right materials. DPW recycling crews will place an “oops” tag when anything that cannot be recycled is in the blue bin. Literature will then be provided.