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

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.


View the Recycling Fact Sheet here!


General Recycling Rules

  • Keep a separate bin for recycling. It's best to keep the recycling bin directly next to the trash bin
  • Never bag up your recyclables. Keep them loosely co-mingled inside the bin. If you use a bag to line your recycling bin, make sure the recyclables are not in a bag when they're set out at the curb
  • Put your recycle bin out on the curb on your regular trash day. You can label your bin with the City of Schenectady's free recycling sticker (available at City Hall)
  • All items should have food or liquid residue washed away as much as possible

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 the recyclables. Other types of contamination affect the value and quality of the recyclables, sometimes making the material un-recyclable! 



  • 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 shampoo, detergent, hand soap, empty bottles from cleaning products *remove and discard the nozzle pump.

 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.


  • 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. 

What Should Never Go in the Recycling Bin? 

  • polystyrene (styrofoam) products of any kind
  • plastic bags * or other thin plastic films like bubble wrap 
  • candy wrappers, foil snack bags, snack bar wrapper, potato chip bags etc. 
  • small pieces like plastic forks, straws, etc. 
  • partially full aerosol canisters 
  • batteries *
  • light bulbs 
  • hazardous waste
  • broken glass from windows, mirrors, drinking glasses
  • scrap metal *
  • tanglers like chains, ropes, hoses, coat hangers
  • clothing *
  • food *
  • wood
  • electronics * 

Some of these items can be recycled, 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.


Last updated June 15, 2021