The Recycling Myth

People typically think about recycling as putting materials in their recycling bin—often, as much as possible. However, recycling is actually a system of collecting and processing used materials that still have value. This means not everything is recyclable. There must be someone to buy the used material and transform it into a new product. And just because a product has a recycling symbol on the bottom does not mean it’s recyclable.

So, why is it important to debunk the recycling myth? Though most of us are well-intentioned, when we put materials in the bin that don’t belong, we’re actually contaminating the recycling stream and harming the recycling process. When you don’t recycle right, this negatively impacts our environment and economy. So, we need your help to recycle right!


Recycle Right Recycling Bin

What can be recycled?

Only the Big 4 should be placed in your recycling bin: 1) corrugated cardboard, 2) plastic bottles and jugs with a neck, 3) metal food and beverage cans and 4) glass bottles and jars. Everything else does not belong in your recycling bin.

If you think something may be recyclable (like newspaper or plastic bags), visit for a list of potential drop-off locations. Otherwise, place the material in your trash. Do not put anything other than the Big 4 in your recycling bin. Remember the phrase: “When in doubt, throw it out!”. LCSWMA will transform discarded waste into renewable energy.

  • Box iconBox iconCorrugated Cardboard

    This includes any size material consisting of a fluted corrugated sheet, like shipping boxes, packing boxes, CLEAN pizza boxes (no grease or food remnants), etc. Flatten all boxes and remove packaging including Styrofoam, peanuts, bubble wrap and plastic liners. Do NOT put paperboard (cereal boxes, shoe boxes), newsprint or junk mail in the bin.


  • Plastic iconPlastic iconPlastic Bottles and Jugs

    This includes plastic bottles, jars, jugs and anything else with a neck. Throw away the lids and rinse out any residue. All other plastic material is considered trash. Ignore the numbers, as they don’t indicate if something is recyclable. Do NOT put plastic bags, toys, buckets, packaging, Styrofoam, hosing, furniture, or other plastic items in the bin.


  • Beverage can iconBeverage can iconMetal Food and Beverage Cans

    This includes all food and beverage cans made from aluminum or steel. Throw away the lids and rinse out any residue. Do NOT put metal hangers, cooking pots and pans or other scrap metal like foil and pie plates in the bin.


  • Glass iconGlass iconGlass Bottles and Jars

    This includes clear, green and brown glass bottles and jars. Throw away the lids and rinse out any residue. Do NOT put light bulbs, dishes, glassware, window or automotive glass, vases or any other glass material in the bin.


Where should I take my recycling?

LCSWMA offers 24-hour recycling drop-off centers at each of our three Lancaster facilities: Transfer Station Complex, Lancaster Waste-to-Energy Facility or Frey Farm Landfill. Residents can bring any of the Big 4 (see above).


Each municipality (city, township or borough) within Lancaster County is responsible for your curbside recycling. If you live in Dauphin County, please contact the Dauphin County Recycling Center for more information about your local recycling program.

Contact your local municipal office and/or trash hauler for the following:

  • Recycling bins (new or replacement)
  • Municipal drop-off locations
  • Pick-up days and times
  • Other questions about recycling


Have questions about recycling at your organization or business? Contact LCSWMA at (717) 397-9968 or For more information about Lancaster County’s recycling guidelines, visit