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Recycling Guidelines

Following are recycling guidelines for Shaker Heights. 

What Belongs in Your Residential Recycling Container?

Five-gallon buckets are used for Shaker's recycling program. Please call Public Works at 216-491-1490 to request your free buckets.


  • Plastic bottles and jugs
  • Milk and juice cartons, soup and juice boxes
  • Steel and aluminum cans
  • Glass bottles and jars
  • Cardboard boxes, flattened
  • Mixed paper, junk mail, magazines, catalogs
  • Boxboard, flattened (like cereal boxes, toilet paper tubes, cracker boxes, etc.)

And follow these guidelines when recycling them:

  • NEVER bag your recyclables. NEVER. EVER.
  • Place comingled, loose (NOT in a bag) recyclables in recycling bucket
  • Empty and rinse all containers
  • Leave the caps and lids on
  • Request free recycling buckets by calling Public Works at 216-491-1490


  • Aluminum foil, baking trays, pie plates
  • Plastic bags and plastic wrap
  • Plastic clamshell containers (including those used for produce, prepared foods, and take-out items)
  • Plastic egg cartons
  • Styrofoam (including no meat trays, no Styrofoam egg cartons)
  • Single-use plastic food packaging (including yogurt containers, prepared food packaging, etc.)
  • Single-use cups, plates, utensils, or straws
  • Paper plates or cups (note: plastic lids for coffee cups are also not recyclable)
  • Paper, plastic or Styrofoam take-out containers
  • Frozen food containers
  • Greasy pizza boxes
  • Food scraps
  • Pots, pans, or ceramics
  • Glass and ceramic drinking glasses
  • Napkins or paper towels
  • Plastic or metal hangers
  • Wrapping paper

Due to the changing recycling market, the list of what is acceptable will change from time to time.

Want to know the biggest threat to the entire recycling program? A contaminated recycling stream (non-recyclables mixed in with recyclables).


ShakeRecycles logoCan't figure out what to do with a certain item? Visit or get the ShakeRecycles app to learn how to recycle some of the items not allowed in your residential recycling bucket (use the Waste Wizard).



What Belongs in Your Yard Waste Bag?

Use only brown paper leaf bags (available at area stores). No plastic bags.


  • Leaves
  • Grass clippings
  • Other leafy yard waste (e.g. plant cuttings, weeds)


  • Brush (place brush directly on your tree lawn, not in a yard-waste bag)
  • Dirt
  • Gardening-related plastic (e.g. plant pots, trays, mulch/fertilizer/soil bags)
  • Other inorganic materials (e.g. other plastics, metal, aluminum, paper/cardboard)
  • Dog waste in plastic bags

Effective 2018, the City will not collect yard-waste bags contaminated with inorganic materials. Read more about the City's leaf, grass, and brush collection policies or view a video about what does (and does not) belong in your yard-waste bag.


Recycling in Cuyahoga County is Easy. Don't Overthink It! (Note, since this article was posted guidance on plastics has changed; please recycle only plastic bottles and jugs. If it has a neck (with an opening or a neck that's more narrow than the body), it can be placed in recycling.

3 Factors that Determine If Something Can Be Recycled

What About Solo Cups and Coffee Lids? 


Recycling Q&A (PDF) — This informative Q&A provides answers to many questions about the current state of recycling, plus offers easy guidelines for how to recycle correctly.

Recycling Guidelines (PDF) — A one-page guide to what belongs (and what doesn't belong) in your recycling bucket. (Note, since this PDF was created guidance on plastics has changed; please recycle ONLY plastic bottles and jugs.)

We Have a Contamination Situation (PDF) — When a recycling bucket is too contaminated, we often have no option but to throw everything in the trash. A one-page guide to common recycling contaminants. Also, check out another Contamination Situation graphic published in Shaker Life magazine.


Why do plastics have numbers inside recycling symbols if they’re not recyclable?

A number inside a recycling symbol does not mean an item should be tossed into your recycling bucket. The numbers on plastic containers are resin codes used by the plastics industry to identify the type of plastic used to make the container. Unfortunately, not all plastics with the 1-7 symbol are recyclable at this time. 

At this time, our regional recycling facilites are still accepting plastic bottles and jugs as there is still a domestic market for those materials. All other shapes of plastic have low-to-no value for the facilities and there is no guarantee they will be recycled.

Can some materials not allowed in a residential recycling bucket be recycled elsewhere?

In some cases, yes. For example, area stores — includng Giant Eagle, Whole Foods, and Target — accept plastic bags and plastic film for recycling (visit Use the Waste Wizard in the ShakeRecycles app ( to find out if a particular material is recyclable elsewhere. Use the calendar feature to learn about community recycling events

Why does it seem that lately more and more materials are not recyclable?

Until recently, most recyclables from the United States were sent to China. But as of January 2018, China began enforcing its "National Sword" policy, which bans 24 types of solid waste, including various plastics and unsorted mixed papers. It also sets a much tougher standard for contamination levels. This has left communities across the United States in a bind, as the market for certain recyclables has constricted considerably (also in Canada). Unfortunately, that's meant more materials — including some that were once recyclable — must go in the trash.

It's also meant that Materials Recovery Facilities — including those that process recyclables from Cuyahoga County — are cracking down on contamination. Communities throughout the County, including Shaker Heights, must lower contamination levels or risk fines and/or their recyclables being sent to the landfill. 

How can I keep up?

CCSWD logoWe recommend following the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District on TwitterFacebook or Instagram for ongoing advice and information about recyling in our region. You can also sign up for their monthly Talking Trash newsletter. And, of course, download the ShakeRecycles app!

Friday, July 20, 2018


summer 2018 cover website

Visit the online home of Shaker Life magazine.