Perfect Your Family's Recycling Habits During the Pandemic


The COVID 19 pandemic has forced many families to spend a lot more time at home. That time at home practicing social distancing means an increased volume of waste and disposable products. It’s more important than ever to be mindful of what can and can’t be recycled. Despite your good intentions, items that are improperly put in recycling bins can actually end up in landfills. Here’s a quick list of tips and reminders from the EPA during and after the pandemic.

  • Keep plastic bags, masks, wipes, and latex gloves out of the recycling bin.
  • If someone in your home has COVID-19, treat your recyclables as trash. 
  • Don’t put your recyclables in plastic bags.
  • Clean and shake dry recyclables to ensure products get recycled.
  • Break down cardboard boxes and put them in the recycling bin whenever possible. 
  • Put recycling and trash in the appropriate bins, not next to them. Leaving materials next to bins increases risks to sanitation workers and can attract pests.
  • Do not put lithium, lithium-ion or spent lead-acid batteries (e.g., car batteries) in your trash or recycling bins. These batteries can contain hazardous materials and can contaminate groundwater or cause fires at recycling facilities. Batteries from electronics and cars can be recycled at specified retail and other locations. You can also check with your city or county to see if they have a household hazardous waste collection program.
  • If you are cleaning, consider setting aside things (batteries, paints, weed killer, plastic bags, clothing, other donations, etc.) to donate, recycle, or dispose of later when it's safe to bring them to a drop off location or collection event. Follow local guidelines. Many localities are limiting service (e.g., not picking up yard waste or bulk items at this time).
  • Return grass clippings back onto your lawn instead of bagging them.