The City of Albany enjoys one of the highest waste diversion rates in the county thanks to our active recyclers and composters in the residential community. The City provides both residential collection services for recycling (commingled “all-in-one” recycling), organics (food scraps and yard waste), and trash.
In addition to proper sorting of materials, we encourage everyone to think about ways to reduce the purchase of products with high environmental impact.
By practicing the 4Rs – reduce, reuse, rot, recycle – we can avoid sending items to the landfill.
Reduce: Buy in bulk to avoid excessive packaging. Avoid buying items that are only intended for single-use, such as plastic wrap, plastic bags, and plastic utensils.
Reuse: Purchase durable items that can be used over and over again, such as reusable coffee mugs and water bottles.
Rot: Place all food scraps, food-soiled paper, and yard waste into the green organics bin so that they can compost, rather than producing methane emissions in the landfill.
Recycle: Place glass, metal, and hard plastics such as tubs, jugs, and bottles in the recycling bin.
It is important to note that “recycle” is only one of the 4Rs. Reduce, reuse, and rot are the Rs that are ultimately the most efficient when it comes to saving energy, resources, and money.
Not all plastic and paper products are created equally. To avoid contamination in your recycling and organics carts, follow these guidelines:
Below is an explanation of our current recycling program. Please not that this information could shift at any time, based on global markets outside of our control.
Glass & Metal: Glass bottles and jars, and metal cans, containers, and foil are highly recyclable as long as they are empty, clean, dry, and placed directly into the recycling bin (not in plastic bags).
Paper Products: Clean, dry paper products such as unlined cardboard and paperboard, newspaper, and paper sheets can be recycled. Unlined paper products that are soiled with food product or grease (a pizza box, for example) should be placed into your organics bin so that it can compost and not contaminate the clean and dry paper in the recycling bin. Plastic-lined paper products, such as paper plates and cups that have a thin plastic lining over the paper, should be placed in the trash bin.
Plastics: The plastics that are most likely to be recycled are hard plastic bottles, tubs, and jugs, however it is important that they are disposed of properly in order to ensure that they are recycled. These plastics must be empty, clean, dry, and placed directly into the recycling bin (not bagged - the bags get tangled in the sorting machinery and can break the system). Loose plastic bags, plastic utensils and straws, and flimsy plastic (plastic film/wrap) should be placed in the trash cart – these plastics are not easily recyclable, and if placed in the recycling cart with other recyclables, could contaminate the load and cause the entire load to be landfilled. Plastic bags and plastic film (like shrink wrap) are no longer accepted by Waste Management for recycling. Please visit RecycleWhere.org to find places that accept these items for recycling.
“Compostable” or “Biodegradable” Plastics: Plastics labeled “compostable” or “biodegradable” do not compost under the standard composting procedure, as they need higher temperatures and wetter conditions than organic materials do to decompose properly. Plastic cups, utensils, straws, and bags labeled "compostable" or "biodegradable" should be placed in the trash cart to avoid contaminating organic compost loads with plastics. We discourage the purchase of these items, as they cause confusion and contaminate organics and recycling loads.
Rather than using a plastic or "biodegradable" bag for your compost, try one of these more sustainable food scraps collection techniques:
- Keep a paper bag alongside you in the kitchen while cooking and after the meal. Scrape all your food scraps into the paper bag instead of the trashcan. Take it out to your organics container during dish washing.
- Pizza night? Bulky pizza boxes clogging up your trashcan? Well, here is a way to keep your trashcan space – toss those pizza boxes into the organics cart!
- Newspaper delivery? Use already read newspaper to wrap up your food scraps. It is easier to carry to your green organics cart and less messy.
- Multi-Family Dwelling Units: Technical Assistance is available for multi-family units to help encourage increased recycling and organics services. The City can provide internal collection containers for each unit, workshops, trainings, and assist with obtaining the appropriate sized waste containers for your facility.