Disposal of Inappropriate Materials Can Devalue Recyclables Collected Through Popular Curbside Recycling Program

Recycling is one of the best ways to have a positive impact on the community. Recycling is important to both the natural environment and to Emerald Coast Utilities Authority (ECUA) customers. 

The ECUA Curbside Recycling Program was launched in January, 2009, as part of the regular ECUA residential sanitation service.  This simple and cost-effective program is voluntary, and is being utilized by 65% of ECUA customers, and continues to grow. A voluntary program assures all participants are willing partners in the recycling process, and serves to minimize the contamination of the collected materials.

ECUA’s program uses a convenient single stream recycling system, which means no sorting is required, and commingled recyclables are sorted at a processing facility.  Although sorting is not required, it is very important that only recyclable items be placed in the ECUA-provided recycling container to avoid contamination of the recyclables.   In some cases, customers will unknowingly introduce unaccepted and/or tainted items into the recycling process. This reduces the value and potential usability of recyclable materials, and jeopardizes the effectiveness of the ECUA Recycling Program.   
ECUA Recycling Coordinator, Amanda Handrahan, offers these tips to successful recycling:  “Make sure all items placed in the recycling container are safe, clean and ready for the recycling process.  We don’t accept plastic grocery bags, but we do appreciate when you use them to bag small, lightweight items, to keep them contained within the can.  Also, it’s important to remove liquids that can damage paper products, and remove leftover food from take-out containers before placing them in the recycling can.”   She adds, “This seems basic but in our busy, everyday lives, it’s always good to have a quick reminder of how to best avoid the possibility of contamination.”

Here’s a list of items accepted in the ECUA’s program, and those that are not:

• Glass; any color • Newspaper & Inserts • Magazines & Catalogs
• Junk Mail & Envelopes • Cardboard • Phone Books
• Office and School Papers (colored paper) • Brown Paper Bags (grocery)
• Boxboard (cereal, cake & cracker boxes, etc.) • Pizza Boxes
• Plastic Produce Clamshells • Plastics No. 1 through 7
• Plastic Milk Jugs; 2-Liters; bottles and containers • Plastic & Metal Hangers
• Juice Boxes / Bags
• Plastic Cups, Plates, Utensil • Aluminum Cans & Lids
• Pet Food Cans and Dry Pet Food Bags • Aluminum Foil Baking Pans
• Balls of Tin Foil; Foil Pie Tins • Tin and Steel Cans & Lids
• Metal Pots, Pans & Cookie Sheets • Bubble Wrap • Cardboard Egg Cartons
Do Not Recycle These Items
• No Empty Plastic Bags • No Ice Cream Cartons • No Waxy/Paper Milk Cartons
• Styrofoam® products • No Aerosol Cans
• No Garbage or Yard Waste
• No Garden Hoses • No Window Blinds

For additional information on all the ECUA Recycling Programs, including Bulky Waste Recycling, visit us at