Recycle Right

Don't be alarmed if you see a Miami-Dade County solid waste worker looking through your recycling bin. The Miami-Dade County Department of Solid Waste Management launched a program to reduce recycling contamination. Waste collectors will ensure recyclables are not contaminated. Only paper, cardboard, glass, cans, and cartons are accepted in recycling bins.

Recycling plastics can be tricky. Here are the dos and don'ts from the Miami-Dade Department of Miami-Dade County Solid Waste Management.

Plastic that can be recycled:
Plastic tubs and jugs: plastic tubs, such as butter or yogurt tubs, and plastic jugs, such as milk or detergent jugs. All residual food must be cleaned out. Numbers on plastics are no longer helpful indicators of recyclability.

Plastics that cannot be recycled:
- Plastic bags: do not place recyclables in plastic bags or place loose plastic bags in the recycling cart.
- Certain plastics: plastic bags, cups, utensils and plates, clamshell containers, polystyrene (foam) products, egg cartons, trays and plastic hangers.

What is recycling contamination? Items not allowed in recycling bins are liquids, plastics, and foods. If these items are in recycling bins, the bin will be tagged as contaminated. After the third warning, the county will issue a $152 disposal fee to remove the contaminated material from the recycling cart. See message below from the county for more information. 

MIAMI-DADE (May 31, 2024) – The Miami-Dade County Department of Solid Waste Management (DSWM) will begin recycling contamination enforcement beginning on June 1, 2024. The enforcement effort will work to reduce recycling contamination in the department’s curbside single-stream recycling program.

In April 2023, the Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners passed an ordinance aimed at reducing recycling contamination, with items that are not accepted in the DSWM single-stream recycling program. Per the ordinance, DSWM enforcement officers were given the authority to inspect the contents of recycling carts placed at the curb for collection, which may entail opening and looking inside a cart to ensure the materials set out do not consist of contaminants.  When contaminants or incorrect items get into the recycling stream, they can render recyclable materials unusable and slow down or even stop the progress of sorting at the recycling facilities.  

On June 1, 2023, DSWM started a one-year educational period where enforcement officers inspect the contents of blue recycling carts placed at the curb for collection and tag contaminated carts with a yellow courtesy notice advising the customer of the contaminated items found in their cart.  The residents were also provided with additional educational materials on how to #RecycleRight.  If a recycling cart was tagged as being contaminated, it would not be serviced by the department’s recycling collection contractor.  Customers with a tagged recycling cart were responsible for removing the contaminated items from the recycling cart before the cart can be serviced, and the collection of the recycling cart would not occur until the customer’s next regularly scheduled recycling collection day.  During the one-year educational period ending May 31, 2024, fees were not assessed to customers with recycling carts tagged for contamination.

Beginning on June 1, 2024, customers with contaminated recycling carts that are tagged by DSWM enforcement officers will be given three (3) chances to take corrective action to remove non-recyclable items from their recycling cart.  Once the customers remove the contaminated items the recycling cart can be serviced, but not until the customers’ next regularly scheduled recycling collection day. Repeat violators whose carts have been tagged more than three (3) times will be charged a $152 special collection and/or disposal fee for the service to remove the contaminated material from the recycling cart.