Your guide to recycling in Cedar Rapids and Linn County

Have you ever wondered if something is recyclable, and then thrown it into your recycling bin in hopes that it is? (Putting things in recycling that are not actually recyclable can cause equipment damage and inefficiency.) Or thrown something in the trash for years only to find out it’s recyclable? (Soup cartons! Paper with staples in it!) But you’re busy, it’s not always convenient to look up, and we want to make it easy for you!

In Linn County and Cedar Rapids specifically, you have fantastic options for recycling, composting and safely disposing of most everything. However, it requires a bit of due diligence on your part because it differs depending on where you recycle. For example, tin foil is recyclable for Cedar Rapids residents in their CURBY carts, but not at Linn County Solid Waste Agency drop off sites. So, we’ve compiled a handy guide so you know what you can and can’t recycle, and some tips for reducing your use of items that would end up in your trash.

Keep in mind that recycling is great and all, but we can reduce our fossil fuel use by reducing the amount of packaging and other materials we consume in general. If you can easily buy something locally rather than on Amazon, you’re saving all those packaging materials. You can also eliminate items that are NOT recyclable – like Styrofoam. Choose paper plates and cups that are compostable, or better yet, use your regular plates and avoid disposable products altogether, when possible.

From your friends in sustainability at Indian Creek Nature Center, please check out the info below and let us know if it was useful to you!

City of Cedar Rapids blue CURBY CART for curbside recycling:

Material: Place in blue CURBY cart: Not accepted:
PAPER ·         Junk mail

·         Newspaper, magazines, catalogs

·         Phone books

·         Food and cereal boxes

·         Cardboard

·         Shredded paper

·         Office paper (no need to remove staples, paper clips, or plastic windows)

·         Wet or soiled paper

·         Gift wrap

·         Tissue paper

Do not recycle, place in YARDY cart for composting:

·         Paper towels

·         Paper coffee cups

·         Paper plates with or without a wax coating

METAL ·         Tin foil

·         Tin cans

·         Aluminum cans

·         Pie plates

·         Large metal objects (pots and pans, grills, metal shelving…)*

·         Coat hangers


PLASTIC ·         Water bottles

·         Milk jugs

·         Shampoo bottles

·         Other plastic containers numbered 1-7

·         Plastic bags (recycle in the entryway receptacle at your local grocery store)

·         Film plastic (Saran Wrap, plastic packaging like sealed air, food wrappers)

·         Styrofoam (not recyclable in our area – eliminate use!)

*These items are recyclable at Linn County Solid Waste Agency drop off sites

City of Cedar Rapids green YARDY CART for curbside composting:

Your YARDY cart is for more than yard waste. Make sure to take advantage of your green YARDY cart to dispose of all food scraps (except meat/bones), coffee grounds and filters, tea bags, dryer lint, human and pet hair, paper plates, napkins, and paper towels. If you place all these items in your YARDY, and all recyclables in your CURBY, you should have very little left for trash. See below for how to recycle film plastics!

Linn County Solid Waste Agency drop off sites

Linn County residents can recycle the following household items for free at one of the Solid Waste Agency’s two drop off sites:

  • Electronics (excluding TVs/monitors)
  • Antifreeze
  • Cardboard
  • Paper
  • Phone books
  • Plastic containers
  • Batteries
  • Light bulbs
  • Motor oil and filters
  • Syringes/sharps
  • Household scrap metal
  • Glass jars & bottles
  • Scrap metal
  • Items recycled for a fee include: appliances, PCB ballasts, TVs/monitors, tires and car/truck loads of items like yard waste

View the Linn County Solid Waste Agency’s full Recycling Guide here.

Recycle your film plastic at any grocery bag drop off!

Once you start recycling and composting everything you can, you may notice that much of your remaining trash is composed of film plastics – flexible plastics such as Saran Wrap, packaging like Sealed Air, grocery bags, food packaging, and more. While you cannot recycle these items in your CURBY or at the Solid Waste Agency, you can drop them off at any grocery bag receptacle. These are located in the entrances of most grocery stores. Just keep a separate box or bag for collecting them in your garage or entryway, and bring them with you next time you head to the grocery store! And remember, it’s better to reduce your usage in the first place – see how many plastics you can avoid altogether.

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4 Comments. Leave new

  • Can the plastic bags that shipped items arrive in be recycled in the same depository that grocery bags are put in? (I use cloth grocery bags, but do have a collection of shipping bags from the past year.)

  • Do pizza boxes have to be absolutely clean to recycle?


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