Celebrating America Recycles Day!

by Liz Skolnick

Today we celebrate the 21st annual America Recycles Day! And on that note, we’d like to encourage everyone to not only recycle, but recycle smart.

As discussed in previous posts, China’s bans on the import of many recyclable materials stemmed mainly from problems with contamination of those materials — simply put, lots of nasty, non-recyclable stuff gets mixed in to what started out as nice clean bottles, cans, paper, etc. This happens as a result of a couple factors: a) cross-contamination from materials collected together such as broken glass and greasy food containers, and b) aspirational recycling or “wishcycling” in which well-intentioned recyclers stick non-recyclable material in the bin hoping it will get a second life (and yes, sometimes folks just knowingly throw trash in there, too).

In the wake of the bans, communities and the country as a whole have been struggling to find importers for recyclables; and some of the “greenest” towns have been hardest hit — forced to send materials to the landfill after stockpiling for as long as possible. Lots of changes may be needed on the side of industry and government to weather this environmental/economic storm.

But while things remain in flux, everyone can do their part to ensure cleaner, more valuable materials that have a better chance of seeing a second life. The trick is to know the YES and NO’s of recycling in your area. Long Island has a notoriously tricky patchwork of solid waste authorities and private trash carters, and collection rules often change from village to village, town to town. And because of China’s bans, some communities have even reduced what they collect for recycling. While most still take the basics like metal (think aluminum, tin and steel cans), and cardboard, some have temporarily stopped collecting certain plastics, or ask that glass be set aside from the rest, among other things.

We encourage you to contact your local sanitation district or solid waste management authority, or reach out to your trash carting company directly for an up-to-date list of what can be recycled and how to separate for collection.

We’ve made it easy for you! — you can find contact info for most LI carters here: https://www.lirecycling.org/li-trash-haulers-contact-list

Below are recycling guides for each town. But keep in mind, some villages, hamlets and sanitation districts have their own recycling rules that differ:

Huntington Recycling guide:


Southampton Recycling guide:


Southold Recycling flyer:


Brookhaven Recycling guide:


Islip Recycling guide:


East Hampton recycling guide:


Long Beach Recycling guide:


Glen Cove Recycling flyer:


Hempstead Recycling guide:


North Hempstead Recycling guide:


Shelter Island Recycling guide:


Smithtown Recycling guide:


Oyster Bay Recycling guide:


Babylon Recycling calendar and flyer:


Riverhead Recycling flyer: