No Yard Waste in Curbside Recycling

Be Bright Yard Waste PDF

Yard clippings such as grass, and pruned trees, shrubs and plants are considered green waste. Although green waste can be composted, it does not belong in your curbside recycling bin. Green waste stains, spreads, and ultimately ruins good recycling.
Yard waste and wood end up at recycling facilities for a variety of reasons; some may assume that green waste belongs in the recycling bin, others may think that because paper is made from trees, wood can be recycled just like paper, and many people struggle with full garbage cans and just want to get rid of their yard clippings.

Greenwaste.jpgPhoto By Esther Davis – Trans-Jordan

Regardless of why people have these beliefs and behaviors, green waste and curbside recycling do not mix. Some cities provide a third can for green waste collection. If you do not have a green waste can and have nowhere to put your yard clippings once the trash is full, please do not use your recycling as an extra garbage can. Look for green waste collection events on your city’s website or bring green waste directly to the landfill where it will be accepted for a small fee and transformed into compost and wood chips that benefit the entire community.

Plastic Bag Contamination

Be Bright Bags PDF

Plastic bags are the #1 source of recycling contamination. Bags wreak havoc on the automated equipment at Utah recycling facilities by wrapping around spinning parts. Every day, machinery has to be shut down and plastic bags cut away.


As recycling is sorted at our local materials recovery facility, plastic bags are removed from the recycling stream and sent to the landfill as trash. Plastic bag litter is so problematic that many landfills install large, curved “Jurassic Park” fences to catch airborne bags. Last year, Trans-Jordan landfill spent more than $40,000 on litter control.



Landfill litter control fence

Photo by Mark Hooyer – Bayview/NUERA

Here in Utah plastic bags are not accepted in curbside recycling. Do NOT bag recycling before bringing it out to the bin or place any types of plastic bags (grocery bags, sandwich bags, bread bags, newspaper bags, etc.) in your recycling. Even if it has a recycle symbol or claims to be recyclable, it is not accepted in curbside recycling. Visit for plastic bag drop of locations. Reusing is always better than recycling, so please remember to bring reusable bags to the store.


Contamination 101

Be Bright Intro PDF

Recycling contamination

By Lesha Earl – Trans-Jordan


Curbside recycling benefits most residents in Salt Lake County. It feels good to keep perfectly usable stuff out of landfills and to give our recyclable paper, cardboard, and containers a chance to be made into new products. Yet even well intended recyclers have contributed to recycling contamination due to misunderstanding, inaccurate information, or what those in the industry refer to as “wish-cycling” by placing an item in the bin and hoping it will get sent to the proper place.

Rejected RecyclingRejected recycling photo by Jason Turville – Trans-Jordan

In Salt Lake County last year, about 19% of recycling was rejected and landfilled due to contamination. So what is contamination and why is it messing up our recycling? Anything that ends up in a recycling bin that does not belong is known as a contaminant. In a perfect situation, a contaminant can be removed in the sorting process, but more often than not the contamination spreads to surrounding material, sometimes even ruining the entire load.

Every month, you will learn about a contaminant, find out why it is harmful, and what you can do to be part of the solution.

Your questions, comments, and ideas are always welcome!

Please contact and you may be mentioned in our article or FAQ page. Visit for more recycling information.

Q: I always carry garbage out to the trash can in garbage bags, is it OK to bag recycling?

A: NO. Please do not bag your recycling. Plastic bags do not belong in curbside recycling cans. Recyclables are clean and dry. If you must line your indoor recycling bin, empty the recycling into the curbside recycling can without the liner.