As environmental sustainability continues to creep more into public awareness, there’s still plenty of work that can be done in terms of waste recycling to help curb the impact pollution is having on our planet. The U.S. currently has an overall recycling rate of 34.5%, which is a steady improvement over previous decades (10% in 1980, 16% in 1990, 29% in 2000), but still shows how much further we have to go to continue to implement better, sustainable waste solutions.

Here in Minnesota, the Land of 10,000 Lakes continues to be one of the more active and aware states when it comes to recycling efficiency. Our most recent Select Committee on Recycling and the Environment (SCORE) rating, a state-funded resource for evaluating Minnesota’s recycling and waste management efficiency, was reported at 46%, the state’s highest score since the program’s inception in 1991. However, while recycling rates have consistently increased in Minnesota, municipal solid waste production has also continued to increase, by nearly two percent in the past few years.

Much of what contributes to municipal solid waste and landfill production is unaccepted recycling materials ending up in recycling bins, which more often than not winds up in landfills (or in extreme cases, the ocean) because they’ve contaminated recycling materials from being sufficiently processed at recycling facilities. This is where understanding exactly what can and cannot be recycled comes in handy to help your local recycling facilities increase their overall recycling rate and avoid contaminating other recyclable materials.

To help increase our already booming recycling rates, let’s take a look at what materials are accepted and unaccepted by recycling facilities right here in the Twin Cities.

Paper Products

Paper products tend to cause the most confusion when it comes to recyclable materials, mainly because a lot of people tend to assume that all paper products are essentially recyclable. However, these types of materials can sometimes either be contaminated with food or other harmful, non-recyclable substances, such as various types of ink.

Per the City of Minneapolis and St. Paul official recycling guidelines, here are what paper products can and cannot be recycled:


●        Mail, office and school papers

●        Magazines, newspapers and inserts

●        Phone books

●        Books (soft or hardcover)

●        Cardboard (must be flattened)

●        Cereal, cracker, shoe and gift boxes (must be flattened)

●        Refrigerated food and beverage boxes (must be flattened)

●        Toothpaste, medication and other toiletry boxes


●        Napkins and paper towels

●        Paper cups

●        Paper plates

●        Egg cartons

●        Ice cream tubs

●        Asian takeout boxes

●        Thermal receipts

●        Tissue paper

●        Carbon paper

Plastic Materials

Plastic materials continue to be one of the biggest contributors to environmental pollution around the world, mainly because they are continuously discarded as garbage. According to the EPA, only 8% of plastic is recycled in the U.S., a figure that’s just as alarming as it sounds.

Knowing which plastic materials are recyclable and not can help clarify confusion, as well as allow the suitable items to receive the recycling process they need.


●        Water, soda and juice bottles

●        Milk and juice jugs

●        Ketchup and salad dressing bottles

●        Dishwashing and laundry soap bottles and jugs

●        Shampoo, soap and lotion bottles

●        Yogurt, pudding and fruit cups

●        Margarine, cottage cheese and other tubs and lids

●        Produce, deli and takeout containers


●        Plastic bags or film

●        Bubble wrap

●        Plastic foam (commonly referred to as Styrofoam)

●        Plastic products labeled with the recycling numbers #3, #4, # 6 and #7

●        Black plastics

●        Any container that held hazardous waste

Glass, Metal, and Cartons

Glass, metal, and cartons are materials that are essential to the recycling process, as they can often be recycled almost indefinitely, being reused for essentially forever. But just like all recyclable materials, not all of these materials can be sufficiently recycled.

Here are the do’s and don’ts for glass, metal, and cartons according to the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul:


●        Food and beverage bottles and jars (must be cleaned out)

●        Food and beverage cans (must be cleaned out)

●        Aluminum foil and trays

●        Decorative tins and pie tins

●        Milk cartons

●        Juice boxes

●        Soup, broth and wine cartons


●        Drinking glasses

●        Window glass

●        Ceramics

●        Mirrors

●        Appliances

●        Electronics

●        Cords

●        Hangers

●        Silverware

●        Propane cylinders

●        Paper or plastic foam (Styrofoam) egg cartons

●        Ice cream tubs or coffee cups

●        Foil juice pouches

Residential Recycling Solutions in the Twin Cities

Having the resources necessary to contribute to environmental sustainability and proficiently recycle is crucial to helping better our communities and planet. If you’re looking for reputable, residential recycling solutions, LJP Waste Solutions is here to help! Contact us today to learn more about our residential recycling process and options, or give us a call at 507.625.1968 to speak directly with one of our waste management professionals.