Frequently Asked Questions about KC Recycles (Curbside Recycling)
What is KC Recycles?
KC Recycles is Kansas City’s curbside recycling program.
Waste disposal costs continue to rise as landfills are closed and new ones have to be opened. Manufacturing aluminum cans and newspaper from raw materials requires mining, logging and importing raw materials to the United States. Collecting and processing recyclables has become more efficient, and the value of recoverable materials has risen. It makes sense to recycle materials.
How often will trash and recyclables be picked up?
The City collects trash and recycling once a week from houses and apartments having up to six units. Recyclables are collected on trash day every week.
What can I recycle through KC Recycles?
There’s a lot you can recycle: newspapers, aluminum and steel cans, plastic containers # 1 thru # 7 (milk bottles, soda bottles, yogurt tubs, margarine/butter tubs). Check the number inside the chasing arrow symbol on the bottom of the container. You also can recycle most paper products, including clean mixed paper like junk mail, corrugated cardboard, cereal and other paperboard dry food boxes. View the complete list at kcmo.gov/kcrecycles.
What can’t be recycled?
- glass (glass can still be taken to a recycling drop-off center)
- paper towels
- disposable diapers
- any materials contaminated with food or liquids cannot be recycled
- plastic cups and tableware
- pipe and tubing
Do I have to recycle?
Participation in KC Recycles is voluntary. However, experiences in other cities have shown that recycling will catch on as residents realize that it is easy to do, especially with a convenient and curbside program like KC Recycles.
Do I need a bin for recycling? Where do I get a bin?
Yes, participation requires the use of a recycling bin. This is required because it signals the truck to stop. Recycling bins can be purchased at participating Westlake Ace Hardware and Price Chopper stores.
Is there a limit to how much I can recycle? What if I can’t fit all my recyclables in one bin?
There is no limit on recyclable collection! The KC Recycles bin signals the truck to stop. Place extra recyclables in cardboard boxes, paper bags, laundry baskets or rubber tubs next to the KC Recycles bin.
Do I have to separate recycling materials?
No! Not having to sort makes this program convenient and efficient!
What happens to all the recyclables that I put out for collection?
After recyclables have been collected, recycling trucks deliver the items to a local company that sorts the items and distributes them to processors. Your recycled materials might be converted into new cans or newspapers, or recycled into carpet fibers, lawn chair frames, food packaging or even jigsaw puzzles and plastic “lumber.”
What if I have difficulty getting the recycling bin to the curb?
Whether it is trash or recyclables, the amount of material that is taken to the curb remains the same. The only differences are that the materials are now set out for recycling rather than for trash, and recyclables can be in a bin. Residents can carry the light items in the bin and then carry separate bags of heavy items, such as newspapers. There is a “front door” trash and recycling collection program available for disabled individuals.
Who is NOT included in KC Recycles?
KC Recycles does not include businesses, apartments with more than six units and home associations that privately contract for trash service.
How common is curbside recycling in other cities?
According to the Environment Protection Agency (EPA), about 10,000 cities across the U.S. have curbside recycling programs.
How do I benefit from recycling?
KC Recycles is curbside, convenient and most importantly, easy. By recycling, Kansas City residents will help save space in landfills, reduce air, land and water pollution, and protect the environment for generations to come. In years to come, KC Recycles also will benefit the City’s budget.
Just how much of my regular weekly trash can be recycled?
While this could vary from household to household based on product purchases, up to 66 percent of our trash (by volume) can be recycled. This includes items like paper and paperboard, plastics and metals – all of which can be recycled at the curb with KC Recycles. And if you purchase items in packaging that can be recycled, even more of your trash can be recycled at your curb.
What if I don’t know if something I have to dispose of is recyclable?
A detailed list of items accepted or not accepted at the curb can be found at kcmo.gov/kcrecycles or by contacting 311. In Kansas City, there is no penalty for discarding a recyclable item in the trash.
What about glass jars?
Glass can be dropped off at one of the City’s recycling drop-off centers.
Do I have to do anything special to my recyclables before putting them at the curb?
Residents can do several things to keep stored recyclables free of odors and to conserve space in the KC Recycles bin. For example, rinse out cans and bottles, flatten plastic milk jugs and break down cardboard boxes.
What if non-recyclable items are put in the KC Recycles bin?
Recycling bins containing glass bottles, motor oil bottles, Styrofoam, plastic bags or other non-recyclable items will be left at the curb. Collection crews do not sort materials at the curb.
Besides separating the obvious recyclables from regular trash, how can I reduce the amount of trash I accumulate each week?
Just remember the three R’s – reduce, reuse and recycle. Reduce by buying only what you need or by buying products that have little or no excess packaging. Reuse by buying quality products that can be reused or by buying items that can be refilled. Recycle as many items as you can so the materials can be used over and over again. For example, use cloth towels or napkins instead of paper towels or napkins. Reuse margarine or yogurt containers for leftovers. With a little effort and some creative “re-thinking,” we can eliminate most of the trash we now send to landfills.
Are the recycling programs at other cities similar to KC Recycles?
More than 4,000 cities have some form of a “pay as you throw” system in place. This is the trend for recycling programs nationwide. Kansas City has a “hybrid” PAYT system -residents are allowed a base amount of trash for no monthly cost and only purchase tags for bags in excess of that base amount. A base amount of 80 pounds of trash a week (two 40-pound bags) is a very high base compared to other cities.
What about leaves, brush and other yard waste?
The city provides special twice-a-year pickups of leaves and brush. That program will remain the same under KC Recycles – with no tag requirement for bags of leaves and brush.
What do I do when I have bulky items for disposal?
There is no change to the bulky item program. Please note that trash bags and big piles of “stuff” are not bulky items. Please know your bulky collection date!
How will you address illegal dumping?
Cities with curbside recycling report less illegal dumping than cities without curbside recycling. People tend to be more conscious and conscientious about their waste if they are recycling. There has been a great deal of research done on the causes of and solutions to illegal dumping. A major finding is that the type of residential collection program has very little impact on illegal dumping. Researchers conclude that illegal dumpers tend to be small businesses that are avoiding the landfill fee, residents from areas where there is no service at all, and people who are inclined to dump no matter what. Like other cities, Kansas City combats illegal dumping through education, enforcement, rapid clean-up and community involvement. Though enforcement will be necessary at times, the success of KC Recycles will depend on the community deciding to recycle. The experience in thousands of other cities is that the vast majority of residents simply follow the simple rules of the program.
How do I make a complaint about collection of recyclables or trash?
Concerns about KC Recycles operations should be directed to 311.