Put On Your Sorting Hat: Recycling Made Easier

By Carrie Chauhan

Recycling is one area where Gainesville can make easy strides toward becoming Zero Waste. The county estimates that we currently only recycle HALF of what we could, and that in some areas like apartment complexes, that estimate is much lower. The City and County have free programs in place, and stores around town offer valuable recycling opportunities as well. With these programs, your first steps to a Zero Waste lifestyle can be easy ones.

Gainesville Recycling Containers

Let’s start with the basics: your two recycling bins. 

Blue bin: 

  • Glass 
  • Plastic bottles, jugs, tubs and jars
  • Aluminum 
  • Steel/tin cans including empty aerosol cans
  • Gable top and aseptic cartons (i.e. almond milk containers, Trader Joe’s soup cartons)        

*Do not place plastic bags, food trays or polystyrene (commonly referred to as "Styrofoam," a trademarked material) products in the curbside recycling. See below for locations to recycle these items.

Orange bin:

  • Newspaper
  • Magazines and catalogs
  • Paperback books (good condition? Donate instead of recycling)
  • Paper bags
  • Shredded paper
  • Cardboard 
  • Office paper and junk mail 
  • Clean pizza boxes are now acceptable

Not sure if an item can be recycled? Gainesville has a great recycling and disposal resource guide on their website.

Now that you have the basics down, you can start to add in recycling that takes a little planning (but not much more).

The Alachua County Hazardous Waste Collection takes: 

  • Chemicals, fluids, solvents
  • Old medicine
  • Lightbulbs 
  • Electronics 
  • Vegetable-based cooking oil

Details can be found at:

When you’re out shopping, a lot of stores have convenient recycling options.  



This year I started getting my Sunday paper delivered, and the newspaper was wrapped in plastic that said “recycle me locally.”  I looked online for where to recycle them and was shocked to learn that those plastic bag bins take WAY more than plastic store shopping bags!  The store collects:

  • Plastic bags 
  • Bread bags 
  • Cereal liners 
  • Case wrap
  • Packaging from around paper towels and toilet paper 
  • Newspaper sleeves
  • Dry cleaning bags  

You may also see these bins described as taking #2 Plastic Bags, #2 Plastic Film, #4 Plastic Bags, and #4 Plastic Film.  Plastic Film Recycling has a good visual aid that clears up the confusion.   

You can also recycle:

  • Styrofoam trays, clean and dry including foam egg cartons
  • Paper bags
  • Pharmacy vials from prescriptions

Best Buy

Electronics (basically any electronic you can imagine--laptop, mp3 player, phone, monitor, TV, etc) can be taken to Best Buy. The Best Buy website has instructions on how to ensure your computer hard drive is wiped clean before recycling.


  • plastic bags 
  • ink cartridges
  • cell phones and mp3 players. 
  • Infant and child car seats: In partnership with TerraCycle, Target periodically accepts used car seats and gives you a coupon toward a new one. Currently going on until September 23, 2017. 

Home Depot and Lowe’s will take your old CFL compact florescent bulbs and rechargeable batteries. 

Want to recycle a cell phone, but think it might be worth some cash? The Oaks Mall has an ecoATM near the food court.  It takes about ten minutes and you must have photo ID to complete the process.

This is a list to help you start recycling as much as possible. Let us know what recycling opportunities you’ve found.