Skip to content

Why Do We Check Recycling Cans?



Hi! One of SLC’s Recycling Education Team members checking a container.

You may have seen a recent story in the Salt Lake Tribune that follows SLCgreen’s Recycling Education Team on a visit around our neighborhoods checking recycling containers. The piece does a good job of giving an overview of the purpose of our Education Team, but we’d like to give you some additional context.

The Education Team works in Salt Lake City’s Waste & Recycling Division and is comprised of five dedicated and passionate employees whose sole job it is to educate the public and improve recycling behavior. We never fine anyone, and our team works hard to be customer-service oriented, friendly, and professional.

The team is out and about each week, across the city, checking cans, leaving materials, and having conversations with people about recycling. They’re also some of the faces you see at community events, festivals, markets, and classrooms across SLC.

Their work is a critical part of our effort to make sure we are recycling as much as possible in the Salt Lake City community– and that we’re “recycling right.”

That’s because while SLCgov has little say over what is and isn’t recyclable, having too much “contamination” (i.e. non-recyclable items) in our blue containers can ruin a whole load of recycling. It also costs the City – and ratepayers- money.

That’s why it’s so important to get it right– and keep things like plastic bags, food waste, garbage, shredded paper, and other items out of the blue containers.

Recycling Sign - July 2018

Recycling No Segment

We know it’s confusing because what is accepted in the blue cans has changed recently (and periodically) since recycling is a market-based industry. While some cities have opted to cancel their recycling programs given the recent changes in the recycling world, we’re doubling down and working hard to maintain the most robust program possible!

That’s what the Education Team is all about. Recycling is more important than ever.

So thank you to everyone in the Salt Lake City community who recycles!

To those who don’t yet recycle– we encourage you to do so! We’re working hard to make it as easy and understandable as possible. Recycling saves resources, reduces pollution, and extends the life of our landfill, which saves money.

A little more inconvenience today pays off in dividends to our community today and tomorrow.

Public Service Day



For those wondering, here are the top sources of contamination in the blue containers:

  • Plastic bags
  • Bagging your recyclables in plastic bags — this will cause them to get thrown away (instead put them in the blue bin loose, or use a paper bag)
  • Dirty recyclables – use up extra-space in the dishwasher or use already-used water to rinse them.
  • Styrofoam
  • Shredded Paper
  • Garbage
  • Glass – find a drop-off via our website or sign up for curbside collection– glass has its own container!
  • Food waste
  • Compostable Disposables
  • Paper plates, coffee cups, napkins
  • Clothing – donate!


Thank you for all you do!

If you have questions on what goes in the blue container, check out our website, call us at 801-535-6999, or ask one of our friendly Education Team members your question. They’d love to talk with you!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: