Single-Stream has made recycling easier, more efficient, and better for the environment.

What Belongs in the Bin?

Single-Stream is proven to increase participation in recycling, but can create confusion about what "belongs in the bin." Use this page as a basic guide for what types of materials are commonly accepted in single stream recycling. Municipal recycling programs can differ on accepted items, so be sure to check with your waste hauler on what items they accept single-stream. 


  • beverage containers (bottles, cups, and jugs) marked #1-7 (bottle caps attached) 
  • food containers (squeeze bottles, tubs from dairy products, clear plastic clam shell take-out containers, plastic jars, clear plastic tray inserts, etc.)
  • health & beauty containers (bottles and jugs for lotion, shampoo, detergent, hand soap, empty bottles from cleaning products *remove and discard the nozzle pump.

TIP: When in doubt, think:  Is it a bottle, jug, lid, tub, or cup? If the answer is yes, go ahead and recycle it single-stream. If the answer is no, the item most likely belongs in the trash. 

 NEVER RECYCLE PLASTIC BAGS SINGLE STREAM. * Take these to the grocery store for recycling.  


  • office paper, printer paper, loose-leaf paper, etc.
  • envelopes, folders, etc. 
  • junk mail, coupons, newspapers, magazines, catalogs, phone books, paperback books, etc.
  • colored craft paper, brown paper bags, most types of wrapping paper, scraps of paper
  • paper egg cartons, paper drink cartons, juice boxes (no foil juice pouches) 

TIP: Most paper is recyclable, with only a few acceptations. When in doubt, go ahead and recycle it. 


  • beverage containers (bottles)
  • food or condiment containers (bottles and jars)

TIP: Never put broken dishes, broken mirrors, or broken windows in your recycling bin. Go ahead and put those types of glass in the trash. It's best to contain the broken glass as much as possible by putting it in a small box, then into the trash so as not to danger sanitation workers. 


  • clean, balled-up aluminum foil (at least 2 inches wide) 
  • foil pie pans or foil serving trays balled-up. 
  • tin and aluminum cans and lids/caps  
  • empty aerosol canisters 

TIP: Don't recycle scrap metal single stream or other types of metals not listed here. Bring those to a scrap metal recycler.  


  • thin paperboard rolls from paper products 
  • broken down cardboard boxes
  • thin paperboard boxes (from cereal, tissues, etc.) 

TIP: To be a better recycler, always keep your cardboard together, neatly broken down and tied up if possible. 

General Recycling Rules

Keep a separate bin for recycling. Label your bin with the City of Schenectady's free recycling sticker(available at City Hall)

Never bag up your recyclables. Keep them loosely co-mingled inside the bin.

Put your recyclables out on your regular trash day.

All items should have food or liquid residue removed and washed away as much as possible, but its okay to leave some residue for those hard-to-wash items. 

Just because an object is made from plastic, metal, or glass DOES NOT mean it belongs in the bin.  Some objects could be hazardous to sanitation workers or damage equipment used in processing recyclables. It's important to understand what belongs in the bin! 

What Should Never Go in the Recycling Bin? 

  • polystyrene (styrofoam) products of any kind
  • plastic bags * or other thin plastic films like bubble wrap 
  • partially full aerosol canisters 
  • batteries *
  • light bulbs 
  • other types of hazardous waste
  • broken glass from windows, mirrors, drinking glasses
  • scrap metal *
  • rigid plastic that isn't a bottle, jug, tub, container 
  • clothing *
  • food *
  • wood
  • electronics * 

Some of these items can be recycles, but not in your home or office recycling bin. All items marked with the * have special recycling programs in place to keep these materials out of the landfill. See our page called What Else Can Be Recycled to learn more.



Angelina Peone
Recycling Educator
518-372-1622 ext. 264

Last updated December 14, 2017