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Recycling Laws For Residents

All residents, agencies, and institutions that receive DSNY service are required to set out designated materials for recycling. In addition to mandatory recycling, food and yard waste recycling is available in certain pilot areas throughout the City. For those who are not located in pilot areas, food waste drop-off sites are also available.

What To Recycle: Mixed Paper & Cardboard

The following materials must be separated from household, agency, and institution garbage and set out for recycling collection (in a different recycling receptacle than the metal, plastic, glass, and carton recycling):

Paper

  • newspapers, magazines, catalogs, phone books, mixed paper
  • white and colored paper (lined, copier, computer; staples OK)
  • mail and envelopes (any color; window envelopes OK)
  • paper bags
  • wrapping paper
  • soft-cover books (phone books, paperbacks, comics, etc.; no spiral bindings)
  • cardboard egg cartons and trays
  • smooth cardboard (food and shoe boxes, tubes, file folders, cardboard from product packaging)
  • pizza boxes (remove and discard soiled liner; recycle little plastic supporter in blue bin)
  • paper cups (waxy lining ok when empty and clean; plastic lids go in blue bin)
  • corrugated cardboard boxes (flattened)

Not Accepted:

  • paper with heavy wax or plastic coating (candy wrappers, take-out containers, etc.)
  • soiled paper?soft paper (napkins, paper towels, tissues)
  • hardcover books

Related Law: 16 RCNY §1-08(a)

Fine (Residential—1 to 8 residential dwelling units): $25 (1st Offense); $50 (2nd Offense); $100 (3rd Offense)

Fine (Residential—9 or more residential dwelling units): $100 (1st Offense); $200 (2nd Offense); $400 (3rd Offense)

What To Recycle: Metal, Plastic, Glass & Cartons

The following materials must be separated from household, agency, and institution garbage and set out for recycling collection (in a different recycling receptacle than the mixed paper and cardboard recycling):

Metal (all kinds):

  • metal cans (soup, pet food, empty aerosol cans, empty paint cans, etc.)
  • aluminum foil and foil products (wrap and trays)
  • metal caps and lids
  • household metal (wire hangers, pots, tools, curtain rods, small appliances that are mostly metal, certain vehicle license plates, etc.)
  • bulk metal (large metal items, such as furniture, cabinets, etc.)

Glass

  • glass bottles and jars ONLY

Plastic (rigid plastics)

  • plastic bottles, jugs, and jars
  • rigid plastic caps and lids
  • rigid plastic food containers (yogurt, deli, hummus, dairy tubs, cookie tray inserts, “clamshell” containers, other plastic take-out containers)
  • rigid plastic non-food containers (“blister-pak” and “clamshell” consumer packaging, acetate boxes)
  • rigid plastic housewares (flower pots, mixing bowls, plastic appliances, etc.)
  • bulk rigid plastic (crates, buckets, pails, furniture, large toys, large appliances, etc.)

Note:  Rigid plastic is any item that is mostly plastic resin, has a relatively inflexible fixed shape or form, and is capable of maintaining its shape or form.

Cartons

  • food and beverage cartons and drink boxes (for example, aseptic packaging that hold beverages and food: juice, soy milk, soup, etc.)

Not accepted:

  • batteries
  • foam plastics (commonly called “Styrofoam”) flexible plastic (such as wrappers and pouches)
  • film plastic (such as plastic bags and product wrap) cigarette lighters and butane gas lighters
  • cassette and vhs tapes
  • pens and markers
  • cables, wires, cords

Related Law: 16 RCNY §1-08(a)

Fine (Residential—1 to 8 residential dwelling units): $25 (1st Offense); $50 (2nd Offense); $100 (3rd Offense)

Fine (Residential—9 or more residential dwelling units): $100 (1st Offense); $200 (2nd Offense); $400 (3rd Offense)

What To Recycle: Food & Yard Waste

For entities that receive NYC Organics Collection, the following materials may be separated from household, agency, and institution garbage and set out for food and yard waste recycling collection (also in different receptacles than the mixed paper and cardboard recycling, and the metal, plastic, glass, and carton recycling):

All Food

  • vegetables and fruit
  • nuts
  • cereal
  • meat, fish, and bones
  • pasta and rice
  • baked goods
  • dairy products
  • prepared foods
  • eggs and eggshells
  • flour and grains

Food-Soiled Paper

  • paper towels
  • brown paper bags
  • coffee filters and tea bags
  • paper plates
  • napkins
  • paper food boats and trays

Leaf & Yard Waste

  • lawn and leaf waste
  • yard waste
  • grass clippings
  • garden trimmings
  • leaves

Not Accepted:

  • recyclable items
  • hygiene or medical items
  • pet waste
  • plastic or foam containers & packaging
  • plastic shopping bags
  • cleaning products

Note: This list differs from the materials that can be dropped off at food waste drop-off sites. These sites generally do not accept yard waste, meat, or dairy products.

Residential Building Setup (4 or More Residential Units)

Recyclable Material Storage Area

Residential building owners or managers must have one or more recycling area(s) for the storage of designated recyclables prior to collection.

Unless recyclables are collected directly from individual dwelling units (by building staff), storage areas must be reasonably accessible to residents;

Recycling areas must be within the building, unless no reasonably accessible area is available, in which case the recycling area can be in an accessible area behind the property line;

Recycling areas must be maintained and designated recyclable materials must be stored so as not to create a nuisance or sanitary problem;

A sufficient number of recycling receptacles must be provided in each recycling storage area to prevent spillage or improper disposal;

Only clear plastic recycling bags (no colored bags) may be used to line recycling receptacles, or receptacles may also be unlined.

The recycling receptacles must be clearly labeled to indicate what recyclable materials may be placed inside. DSNY provides labels for this purpose.

NOTE: It is preferred that recycling areas be located as close to trash areas as possible to enhance the convenience of recycling and reduce contamination.

Related Law: 16 RCNY §1-08(f)(2)

Fine (Residential—1 to 8 residential dwelling units): $25 (1st Offense); $50 (2nd Offense); $100 (3rd Offense)

Fine (Residential—9 or more residential dwelling units): $100 (1st Offense); $200 (2nd Offense); $400 (3rd Offense)

Recycling Education

Residential building owners or managers must notify residents of their recycling requirements:

At least one (minimum 8.5”x11”) sign must be posted with the following information:

  • what materials are required to be separated for recycling, including which are the appropriate containers;
  • where recycling area is located;
  • requirement to rinse recyclables;
  • any additional disposal instructions for the specific building, such as requirement to bundle cardboard or other materials. Other instructions could include, but are not limited to, locations for the placement of bulky recyclables.

Requirements for posting of this sign depend on each building’s requirements as follows:

  • if the recycling area is inside, the sign must be posted in said area;
  • if the recycling area is outside, the sign may be posted in the recycling area, near the building entrance, in the mailbox area, or in any other public and routinely visited area;
  • if recyclables are collected at the back of each residential unit, sign must be posted at each area;
  • if recyclables are collected at the front of each residential unit, signs must be prominently posted on each floor.

Note: It is preferred that buildings post these signs in as many locations as possible to ensure tenant understanding.

Any trash area, which is not also a recycling area must include a sign to notify residents where to bring recyclables.

DSNY has created signage which can be used for this purpose.

Related Law: 16 RCNY §1-08(f)(1)

Fine (Residential—1 to 8 residential dwelling units): $25 (1st Offense); $50 (2nd Offense); $100 (3rd Offense)

Fine (Residential—9 or more residential dwelling units): $100 (1st Offense); $200 (2nd Offense); $400 (3rd Offense)