Recycle @ Home

We all have a role to play in protecting our environment, and small actions add up. There’s real power in numbers, and your community Curbside Recycling Program is an easy way for you to do your part in the battle against climate change. When you think about it, your regular household waste is all going to the curb anyways – the only real difference is what colour bag it’s in. Apart from reducing the amount of waste we generate, recycling is one of the best things we can do to work towards a greener future.

We all have a part to play – which is why MMSB is partnering with communities across the province to increase recycling at home! This webpage provides tips and resources to answer your questions about curbside recycling to help you make a difference.

Did you know that most paper can be recycled 5-7 times before the fibres become too short for reuse?
Domtar: Making Paper New Again: The Limits of Recycling Paper

Getting your recycling sorted

Understanding what’s accepted really comes down to two categories: paper and mixed containers. See below for a complete list of what is currently accepted:


stack of papersNewspapers, flyers & junk mail
stack of magazinesMagazines, catalogues & phone books
stack of computer paperWriting & computer paper (e.g. lined, white, coloured)
stack of envelopesEnvelopes (paper & plastic window envelopes only – not bubble/insulated)
stack of books with hardcovers removedBooks (remove hardcovers)
cereal boxBoxboard (e.g. cereal, cracker, frozen food, detergent boxes & more)
egg cartonsEgg cartons (just the cardboard kind, not the Styrofoam ones)
cardboard drink trayTake out drink trays
toilet paper rollsEmpty paper towel & toilet paper rolls (just the tubes)
Corrugated cardboardCorrugated cardboard

Mixed Containers

Aluminum trays (e.g. pie plates, baking trays & more)
Aluminum cans (e.g. pop cans, beer cans & more)
Milk & Juice cartons (including non-dairy alternatives)
Plastic trays & tubs (e.g. butter & sour cream, vegetable/fruit trays,
plastic berry containers)
Plastic food containers (e.g. ketchup, mustard, yogurt & more)
Plastic cleaning product containers (e.g. bleach, liquid laundry/dish detergent, all-purpose cleaners, spray bottles, windshield wash & more)
Plastic toiletries containers (e.g. shampoo, liquid soap, mouthwash, contact lens solution, bodywash & more)
Plastic drink bottles (e.g. water, pop, liquor & more)
Steel (tin) cans (e.g. soup, beans, tuna, coffee cans & more)
Tetra Pak containers (e.g. juice, soup containers & more)

Avoid Contaminating Your Recycling

In order to get the most out of our curbside recycling, we need to avoid putting certain items in the bag, including:

Glass containersGlass containers
Non-recyclable coffee cupsNon-recyclable coffee cups
Tissues and paper towelsTissues and paper towels
Wrapping paperWrapping paper
Large Plastic Buckets
Cat litter trays
Plastic totes & organizers
Children’s toys
Flower pots

Placing these items in your bag may cause it to be left behind. Please check with your local materials recovery facility or waste management authority for a complete list of items not accepted.

Did you know that almost 25% of Canadian curbside recycling ends up in the landfill due to contamination? What a waste!Singular Solutions Inc: The Problem with Recycling Contamination

Making Your Recycling Curbside Ready

It is also important to prepare your containers for recycling with just a few quick and
easy steps.

  • Ensure all containers are free of debris and garbage
  • Quickly rinse your containers
  • Remove parts with food or grease stains from boxes or paper (e.g. pizza boxes)

Recycling saves resources. Did you know that one tonne of recycled plastic saves 16 barrels of oil from being used?Stanford University: Benefits of Recycling

Recycling is just that – a cycle. It keeps valuable resources in production by transforming them and extending their use. The production of paper accounts for a significant amount of deforestation, and while a lot of paper waste  may be compostable, it needs oxygen to decompose. Plastics decompose much more slowly, but they break down into toxic chemicals that can harm our environment.

When we recycle, we help give such materials  new life and purpose. Instead of clearing more land to plant more trees or drilling for even more oil, we can reduce our reliance on our  natural resources.

Check with your local waste management authority to find out what becomes of your recycling.

City of St. John’s – What Happens to Curbside Recycling

Recycling for a Greener Future

Curbside recycling is currently available to 83% of residents in the province. Do you have questions or want to learn more about recycling programs in your region of the province? Contact your regional waste management authority or municipality for more information.

MMSB thanks the following communities and organizations that have signed on to join the curbside revolution and support this campaign to increase recycling in our province:

Communities who would like to get involved with this campaign and are looking for resources are encouraged to email


Garbage bin and recycling bag at the curb
We recycle over 19 million pounds of curbside material every year right here in Newfoundland and Labrador. However, we know we could recycle a lot more!

MMSB partners with waste management authorities and municipalities to conduct curbside audits throughout the province, in which both garbage and recycling bags are inspected to determine the effectiveness of programs. Based on this data, we know that currently the province is capturing about 43% of recyclable materials through blue bag programs.

recycling symbol on the bottom of a plastic container

If you take a look at the bottom of a container, you may notice a symbol consisting of a number surrounded by a triangle or three arrows that make a recycling symbol — this is called the resin identification code. Many people think that this symbol means that the packaging can be recycled, however it’s just an indicator of the type of plastic used in the product. Residents should not rely on these codes to determine whether packaging can be recycled cursbide, but rather refer to the list provided on this webpage, as well as on waste management authorities and municipality sites.

For more information on what the numbers mean, visit

clean glass jars ready to recycle

While glass is accepted in many jurisdictions, this material type can pose challenges to curbside collection which is why it is not currently accepted in local programs. In developing programs in this province, jurisdictions did consult with several Canadian municipalities running a curbside recycling program to understand what they might do differently if they could start all over again.

The number one answer was to not include glass, because:

  1. broken glass is an occupational health and safety issue for recycling sorters;
  2. shards of broken glass can contaminate other recycling material; and
  3. glass has a very low market value and low demand which often leads it to be stockpiled or landfilled.

The good news is that MMSB’s curbside waste audit data shows that less than 2% of what is put in the garbage in this province is glass jars and bottles. This is likely a reflection of a reduction in the use of glass packaging by manufacturers. While expanding programs to include glass recycling is a nice idea, it could have a negative impact on programs and is not currently feasible.


The types of materials accepted in curbside programs can vary between jurisdictions. This could be related to a number of factors, such as available markets for the material types, contamination risk to other materials, equipment used and population size to name a few. While some items have the ability to be recycled, there may not be a demand for them or they may cause serious problems in terms of contamination of other materials or damage to equipment. Currently, this is the case for Styrofoam and plastic film. For example, some styrofoam can break up easily causing contamination of other material placed in the same bag. Additionally, Styrofoam markets are limited and have very high standards, even though the market value is low.

In terms of plastic film, such as bread bags or food wrap, this material can cause damage to sorting and processing equipment by getting tangled, contaminate other materials and also has a low demand.

While we want to ideally recycle as much material as possible, it is important that regional waste management authorities and municipalities only accept items that make sense for the functionality and feasibility of programs in the province.

a lush green forest

Next to reducing and reusing our waste, recycling is one of the easiest ways we can personally protect our environment and fight against climate change. We do encourage residents to also consider the packaging they are purchasing to make more environmentally conscious decisions.

A lot of materials accepted through blue bag programs are currently being thrown in the garbage. If this material was recycled rather than disposed, residents could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 157,000 tonnes in Newfoundland and Labrador. This is the equivalent to taking 47,000 vehicles off the road.

Curbside recycling
Currently, curbside recycling is available to 83% of residents in the province; however, there are some regions and communities that do not offer services at this time. For information about availability of services, you should contact your local waste management authority or municipality.

Truck emptying it's load of recyclables at a depot
You may see your recycling and garbage being loaded into the same truck – this does not mean it is going to the same location! Recycling infrastructure varies between communities, with some using a split truck to collect garbage and recycling at the same time while others have a designated vehicle. Some smaller areas may even use a pickup truck, and sort the material later. While recycling is collected in different ways, it all ends up at a materials recovery facility to be processed and begin its recycling journey.