How To Recycle in Takoma Park

Residential recycling is collected by the City in one truck. This collection method is referred to as "Single Stream" recycling. All the recyclable materials are collected in the same vehicle and taken to a processing facility to be sorted, separated and prepared for markets. Paper items should be placed in paper bags or secured into bundles with string or twine and bottles and cans should be placed together in the yellow recycling container. These items are collected by the same crew, at the same time, and in the same truck. However, by placing paper in paper bags or bundles, the paper stays cleaner, is easier to sort, and reduces the chances of it becoming litter by blowing out of the recycling container or truck.

Put In Recycling Containers

  • Glass
  • Plastic containers
  • Tin and aluminum cans

All items above can be placed together in your curbside recycling contanier. Screw tops should be disgarded. Items to be recycled should be rinsed. 

Put These Items Curbside (Outside of Recycling Container)

  • Paper items. Place in paper bags or tie in bundles. 
  • Newspaper, magazines, junk mail and office paper. Place in paper bags or tie in bundles. These three items can be combined in the same bundle or paper bag.
  • Cardboard boxes. Break down and tie into bundles.

Do not place loose paper in the recycling container, it will blow out and become litter.

Broken glass, food wrap, used napkins, pizza boxes are not accpeted.


Replacement Recycling Containers

Replacement recycling containers for bottles and cans are available from Public Works.

Need a replacement recycling container? To get a replacement recycling container, visit the Public Works Department during office hours, 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday. The Public Works office is located at:

City of Takoma Park
Public Works Facility
31 Oswego Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20910 (MAP)

8:30 am - 5:00 pm
Monday - Friday

Residents can call Public Works at 301-891-7633, and ask for containers to be placed outside to be picked up after the office is closed, if they are unable to come by during office hours.


What is Recyclable?

Find recycling confusing? Hoping to find some insight on how to get the most out of the City of Takoma Park's recycling program?  Unsure of what goes into your recycling bin and what goes out with the trash? You are in the right place! Read on for details about Takoma Park's recycling program.

PREcycling: Reducing Waste Before Purchase

One third of our garbage is made up of packaging, much of it thrown out immediately after purchase. Precycling is considering what will ultimately happen to a product's container or packaging before purchasing it, then buying those products that are minimally packaged and/or can be recycled. Buying items in bulk and purchasing reusable, rechargable or long-life products are others ways to reduce waste in the long run.

When choosing between two different brands, consider the one whose packaging can be recycled.  You may have to weigh convenience against recyclability.  If your child can live without drink boxes, then choose the environmentally better solution of a small thermos or plastic canteen and buy juice in large bottles.  Buy a small reusable plastic container and fill with food from a larger recyclable container or food you make yourself.

Choose products that use less wrapping or come in bulk. A paperboard box can be recycled with mixed paper; a plastic wrapper goes out in the trash. Many companies now make concentrated versions of their product, which reduces the amount of water you are buying and often reduces the size of the container.

What are you keeping, what are you throwing out, what can you recycle, and what are you really paying for -- these are the major precycling questions.

The truly dedicated tend to choose paper, glass or metal containers over any made out of plastic since the former three are usually recycled back into something like their original form. This is called closed loop recycling, since a soda can becomes another soda can. Plastic containers are not yet recycled into their previous forms and are usually downgraded from food use. They are used in insulation, carpet backing, plastic lumber, recycling and trash bins, and other nonfood products.

In addition to precycling, buying products with a recycled content also supports recycling industries. Many businesses in the area now carry paper, glass, plastic and metal merchandise where some or all of the content has been recycled.

Glass: What Is and What Isn't Recyclable

Recycling glass saves a ton of resources for every ton recycled.  Since glass never wears out it can be recycled forever. Most glass containers have about 25% recycled glass content, saving about 30% of the energy used to make the glass.

Takoma Park recycles glass bottles and jars, any size, any color, with or without labels, and unbroken. Yes, we all know that when they dump the recyclables into the truck some things get broken, and that ultimately the recycler will crush the glass into "cullet", but because they are color-sorted at the processing facility it is requested that only unbroken items be placed in the bin.

Some glass items are not recyclable. Light bulbs, drinking glasses, window panes, mirrors, pyrex ware, crystal, china and pottery are made from different materials, melt at different temperatures and are therefore not recyclable with glass bottles. Some of these items when crushed with regular glass will contaminate an entire lot, making all of it unrecyclable.

Metal Containers: Just Rinse & Recycle

Takoma Park accepts all types of metal beverage and food containers. Cans should be rinsed clean. Paper labels can be removed and recycled with the mixed paper. Clean aluminum foil and pie plates can also be recycled.  

Paint cans, car parts, nails, screws, bent hinges, old lawnchair frames, cast iron, etc. CAN NOT be collected in this program.

Appliances: CFC's And You

Most metal appliances and some scrap metals are collected by appointment only and recycled at a local scrap yard. (Call Public Works at 301-891-7633 to schedule an appointment). However, appliances that contain CFC's - a refrigerant - require special handling. These include refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners and dehumidifiers.  CFC's are a source of air pollution and Federal laws restrict their release.   Disposal of a CFC/freon containing appliance must be done by a licensed company. The Montgomery County Transfer Station has a drop-off area for these appliances. You can self-haul or hire a private hauler to take these items to the County Transfer Station for disposal.

Plastics: Bottles, Containers, Bags and More

Takoma Park residents can now recycle any type of plastic bottle as well as many other types of plastic containers, regardless of the recycling symbol on the bottom on the container.

Here is What’s Recyclable In The World of Plastic:

  • All plastic beverage and food bottles
  • Wide mouth containers (yogurt cups, margarine tubs, cottage cheese containers. This includes lids.)
  • Plastic squeeze bottles (mayonnaise & ketchup)
  • Plastic jars (peanut butter & medicine containers)
  • Plastic buckets and tubs (ice cream, kitty litter, detergent containers)
  • Rinsed out latex paint buckets, up to 5 gallon size
  • Plastic flower pots, with dirt removed (NOTE: Home Depot and Lowes often have drop-offs for clean plastic pots or seedling trays. Reuse is better than recycling!)

Plastic Bags

Bags should be placed together inside a similar plastic bag; for example all newspaper bags should be put together inside another newspaper bag.

Many Safeway and Giant food stores recycle plastic grocery bags as well. Handles that are of a different composition from the bag can not be included and all materials to be recycled must be clean, dry and free of debris, receipts, etc.

What Is Still Not Recyclable In Plastic

Sometimes the container's original contents make it unsuitable for recycling.  A bleach bottle can be recycled because the bleach is easily washed out and does not permeate the bottle to the point of contamination.  A motor oil bottle cannot be recycled because there is no way to safely and thoroughly remove the residual oil.  If the bottle can not be thoroughly rinsed and safely cleaned of its original hazardous contents it should not be recycled. You should follow instructions on the container for proper disposal.

Styrofoam or polystyrene containers or packing peanuts cannot be recycled in the City’s program. Some mail houses will accept the packing peanuts for re-use. These items should be disposed of with the trash.


Next to plastics, the most prolific material to recycle is paper.  Like plastics there are many different types of paper and some are more recyclable than others.  The equivalent of 30 million trees gets thrown out every year in this country.  Although the amount of recycled paper is growing, paper can not be continuously recycled.  Each pass through the recycling process further breaks and shortens the paper fibers, causing the paper to be downgraded to lower grade forms.

Fortunately, here in Takoma Park, we can recycle all of our clean paper.  The City asks that all paper be placed in paper bags or tied into bundles for recycling. Loose paper placed in a recycling container often becomes litter. Loose paper can be easily blown out of the container by the breeze or a fast passing car. It can also fall out of the container or truck during collection.

Plastic bags cannot be recycled with the paper – please use paper bags or twine to contain loose paper before putting it into or beside the recycling container.

All types of paper can be bagged or bundled together. Magazines, phone books, newspaper, cereal boxes, toilet paper rolls, office paper, etc – Mix and match – just bag it or bundle it please.

Any paper that has food waste, grease, paint or any other type of spill on it is not recyclable and should be thrown away with the trash.

Electronics and Computer Recycling

Bring your old or unwanted electronic equipment to be refurbished or recycled to the City of Takoma Park Public Works facility.

Drop Off Hours and Location:

City of Takoma Park
Public Works Facility
31 Oswego Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20910 (MAP)

8:30 am - 5:00 pm
Monday - Friday

Recycling electronic equipment keeps hazardous metals out of the environment. Computer components and other small electronic equipment are accepted Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm.

The following items are accepted:

  • computers and all their related equipment (CPU, monitor, printer, keyboard, modem, mouse, speaker)
  • cameras
  • televisions (non console type)
  • electric typewriters
  • fax machines
  • answering machines
  • telephones
  • VCRs
  • radios
  • stereos
  • CD and tape players
  • scanners
  • copiers
  • fax machines and other small electronic equipment.

Most electronic equipment contains hazardous metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium and chromium. These materials need to be handled properly and not released into the environment.

How to Recycle Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs) in Takoma Park

Takoma Park offers a drop-off for recycling compact fluorescent light bulbs or CFL’s. CFL’s can be dropped off at the Public Works Facility.

Drop Off Hours and Location:

City of Takoma Park
Public Works Facility
31 Oswego Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20910 (MAP)

8:30 am - 5:00 pm
Monday - Friday

About Compact Flourescent Light Bulbs

Compact fluorescent lights require less energy to operate than incandescent bulbs. However, each CFL bulb contains about 4 mg of mercury. If the bulb remains intact and is recycled that mercury can be collected and reused. If the bulb is broken, the mercury can be released into the environment.

Coincidentally the use of CFL’s in lighting actually reduces the amount of mercury potentially coming into the environment. A CFL uses 75% less energy to operate than an incandescent bulb and lasts 6 times longer. A power plant will emit 10 mg of mercury to produce the electricity to power an incandescent bulb for 5 years compared to 2.4 mg to run a CFL for the same amount of time.*

While the CFL’s used in your home are not legally considered hazardous waste, it is best to dispose of them through a recycling operation rather than throwing them in the trash, especially when trash is incinerated as it is in Montgomery County. The City has partnered with USA Light’s a local Beltsville company for this program.

If you break a CFL, the EPA recommends that you open a nearby window to disperse any vapor, sweep up the fragments and wipe the area with a disposable paper towel to remove glass fragments. Do not use a vacuum cleaner. Place all fragments and used paper towel in a sealed plastic bag. The broken bulb can be taken to the recycling drop-off provided the plastic bag is intact and sealed.

If you have any questions, please contact the Public Works Department at 301-891-7633.

* Information from US Environmental Protection Agency Fact Sheet.

Got Milk? and Juice Boxes - You Can Recycle The Container Too!

The City also accepts aseptic cartons (also called gable top containers). These containers are frequently used for milk and juice. Rinse the containers after use and place them in the recycling container with the bottles and cans