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What is recycling?

Please note: accepted materials vary by location. The list below provides a general guide on what can be recycled. For more information, contact your local branch.

Recycling is the process of separating specific reusable materials from garbage streams and diverting them to facilities that will repurpose them for reuse.

Recycling offers a sustainable alternative to regular waste streams by decreasing input into municipal landfills. It’s essential to the future of our planet to drastically reduce the environmental impact of our waste materials and ensure that scarce resources are recovered and reused.

At GFL, our recycling operations involve materials such as wood, paper, cardboard, plastic, glass, aluminum and other metals. We collect, sort and prepare these materials for market and future use as recycled material. In some locations, we have our own state-of-the-art Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs) where we process recyclables into high-quality commodities.

What can I recycle?

When it comes to recycling, awareness is key. Contamination is the biggest issue impacting successful recycling practices today, when people throw in items they shouldn’t, such as grease-soaked cardboard, plastic bags or paint cans. This is why it’s important to know what you can recycle and what you can’t.

It’s also important to note that accepted items vary by location and facility. Below is a general guide to what you can recycle, but this is NOT location specific. To ensure you are recycling correctly, please contact your local GFL branch or recycling center to get a list of accepted items.**

USUALLY ACCEPTED: Plastic recycling

Includes all CLEANED plastic bottles and jars #1 to #7: soft drink bottles, milk jugs, detergent bottles, FLATTENED cartons, etc. Check the bottom of the container. If you see the recycling symbol with a #1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7 in the center, it is acceptable.

USUALLY ACCEPTED: Metal recycling

Includes aluminum cans, pie and baking pans, tin cans, steel food containers, EMPTY aerosol cans, and lids. Metal beverage cans, baking tins, foil, and food containers are also included in this material category.

All items must be CLEAN OF FOOD.

USUALLY ACCEPTED: Cardboard recycling

Includes corrugated cardboard, shipping boxes, cereal and dry food boxes, shoe boxes, tissue boxes, moving boxes, detergent boxes, soda/beer cartons, and paper towel/toilet tissue rolls.

All boxes MUST BE FLATTENED for proper disposal.

USUALLY ACCEPTED: Paper recycling

Includes newspapers, inserts, labels, magazines, catalogs, paperback books, manila folders, letterhead, notebook paper (no backings), computer paper, envelopes (with windows), coupon books, index cards, calendars, and brown paper bags.


NOTE: Many areas are no longer accepting glass, so please double check before including it in your container. If accepted, items usually include:

Bottles and jars – lids must be REMOVED and separated and the item must be CLEANED of all food and liquid waste before being placed inside the container.

What can’t I recycle?

  • Styrofoam
  • Window glass and mirrors
  • Electronic waste (TVs and computers)
  • Motor oil containers
  • Yard waste
  • Chemical containers
  • Shredded paper
  • Plastic bags
  • Ceramics or dishes
  • Food waste
  • Scrap metal
  • Monitors

**Please check with your local branch for details of what’s accepted and what isn’t in your area. This general list does not apply everywhere, but it follows the most common practices, so always double check to avoid contamination.