How to Recycle Right

Person puts plastic bottle in recycling bin


Recycling Right means only placing items in your recycling bin or cart that are accepted in your program and prepared properly.

Incorrect or improperly prepared items – called contamination – can harm your recycling program. Contamination can result in:

  • a decrease in the value of the material to be recycled;
  • disposal of material that could be recycled;
  • an increase in local government recycling program costs to remove the contamination;
  • a reduction of services or material accepted in your recycling program; and
  • elimination of your recycling program.

Be cart smart: Don’t trash recycling

It is essential to know what is accepted in your recycling program. Most programs accept aluminum and steel (e.g., food) cans, plastic bottles, and cardboard, but every program varies. To find out what is accepted in your program, visit RecycleHereSC.

Remember: when in doubt, leave it out. For what NOT to recycle, click here.

It is also essential to properly prepare items for recycling. Properly prepared means recyclables must be:

  • Dry –  No liquids remaining. Liquids can ruin paper, cardboard, and other material in the recycle bin, making them contamination;
  • Empty – No or little food residue remaining; and
  • Loose –  Do NOT bag your recyclables.

Commonly available recycling options beyond curbside and drop-off centers

While some items cannot be recycled in your curbside bin or at your local recycling convenience centers, many of them can be recycled elsewhere.

  • Appliances, some electronics, lead-acid batteries (e.g., car, truck), and tires must be recycled by law in South Carolina. Each of the state’s 46 counties offers collection centers for these items. Find out where at RecycleHereSC.
  • Counties also may offer programs or single-day events to collect batteries, fluorescent bulbs, paint, and household hazardous materials. Find your recycling program’s website and more here.
  • Rechargeable batteries can be recycled at major retailers that participate in the Call2Recycle program. This program is free to residents. Learn more about safely handling and recycling batteries through Be Battery Smart.

Learn more about recycling hard-to-manage items here.