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Your Waste & Recycling Questions

Salt Lake City’s waste & recycling survey closed earlier this month. We are grateful for all of the feedback– we received nearly 6,200 responses, which is a record!

Now our team is busily combing through over 12,000 of your comments. We plan to compile these into a feedback summary in the new year. Stay tuned!

Bales of aluminum at a recent visit to the local recycling facility that processes SLC’s residential recycling.
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Waste & Recycling Tips

In the meantime, we’ve been reading a lot of questions about Salt Lake City’s waste & recycling services. So we thought this would be a good opportunity to share some answers, links, and helpful resources:

What’s recycled in SLC? 

SLC is dedicated to keeping recycling and compost available. Residents can recycle clean and dry plastic containers, cardboard and paperboard, aluminum cans, and paper in the blue curbside containers.

Go even further with waste diversion when you use the brown compost can for yard trimmings AND kitchen scraps. This includes veggie and fruit scraps, coffee grounds and paper filters, tea bags (no staples or string), and eggshells.

Does recycling even matter?

Yes! It absolutely makes a difference. For example, in June 2019, Salt Lake City residents recycled 585 tons of cans, bottles, paper, and cardboard. To put this in perspective, this saved the equivalent of 5,732 mature trees, 2,238 cubic yards of landfill airspace, enough water to meet the daily needs of 41,625 people, and enough electricity to fulfill the annual needs of 175 homes! All this recycling helped us avoid 2,027 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, which makes for cleaner air too.

Multiply those numbers by 12 and you have the average impact of Salt Lake City’s curbside recycling program over the year. You are making a difference–thank you!

Recycling matters— this topic was the inspiration behind our newest truck wraps.


New recycling facility coming to Salt Lake City this spring

We are thrilled that Waste Management is constructing a new state-of-the-art recycling facility in Salt Lake City as we speak. It will be one of the most high-tech facilities in the country, allowing us to recycle more material and reduce contamination– saving everyone money. We also hope to offer drop-off recycling for more hard-to-recycle items like plastic bags. Learn more here and stay tuned.

Waste Management, our recycling processor, also announced that they are no longer sending plastic overseas but are finding domestic markets for plastic recycling. Great news!

Why does Salt Lake City check recycling cans?

Our Education Team goes around the city checking recycling cans to see if there is trash or other unaccepted material inside. This practice helps dispel confusion, supports more recycling, and reduces contamination which saves us all money. Read this blog post for more info. (We also have several Instagram Story highlights on this work if you’d like to see what they find in blue cans!)

How to downsize your can

There are three ways to request a different-sized garbage can (residents may select from 90, 60, and 40 gallon sizes). You will need your water bill account number and you will be required to keep any new bins you request for a minimum of 12 months.  

  1.  Log onto your SLC Public Utilities account to request a change
  2. Complete this form online.
  3. Call our customer service team at 801-535-6999, M-F 8 am – 5 pm.

How to recycle glass

Many people don’t know why Salt Lake City offers source-separated glass recycling instead of allowing it in the blue bin. The answer is that mixing glass, paper, and other recyclables degrades the quality of all the materials. Curbside programs that mix glass and recyclables together typically recycle less than half the glass that is collected in the can, due to the glass being broken down into pieces too small to recover. It’s also more expensive to process. (This is why some cities around the country are now changing course on single-stream glass recycling.)

Thanks to our source-separated glass program, over 95% of the glass collected for recycling is recycled in Salt Lake City. This glass is processed locally at Momentum Recycling’s facility.

You can take glass recycling to a drop off location or you can add a glass recycling bin to your curbside bill for $7/month.

Hard-to-recycle materials

Some materials don’t belong in the blue curbside containers. However, they don’t always belong in the garbage, and may require specialty recycling. We provide an ongoing list of specialty recyclers here.

Call 2 Haul

The City’s bulk waste program is available year-round. January 1 begins a new year so everyone is eligible to reserve their once-annual collection to help clear clutter or deal with bulky waste. 

What’s collected? Electronics, automobile and bike tires, refrigerators and appliances, furniture, mattresses, tree limbs, long and loose items like lumber and pipes; and miscellaneous waste that is placed in boxes or bags. You can begin the scheduling process online or by calling 801-535-6999.

We recycle metals, appliances, refrigerators, tires, mattresses, and electronics. In the first year of Call 2 Haul, you helped us divert 102 tons of this material from the landfill than we did under the previous program. Thank you!

Call 2 Haul stats in the first year of the program.



Holiday schedule

Our crews will be taking Christmas Day and New Year’s Day off. This means a one-day delay of curbside trash and recycling pickup if your collection days are Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday for the next two weeks. Click here for more information.

Holiday tree collection

You can dispose of holiday trees by cutting them up and placing them in your brown compost container. Or leave trees at the curb. We’ll begin collecting whole trees at the curb January 6-24.

Winter suspension of compost container 

There will be no collection of brown cans January 27 – March 6, 2020.

One of the ways the Waste & Recycling Division conserves resources and saves you money is by instituting a short suspension of compost container collection. There is very low demand for this service during the middle of winter. The 6-week suspension saves nearly 4,500 gallons of fuel, 728 pounds of air pollutants, and 99,960 pounds of carbon emissions.

The cost savings from the 6-week suspension stays in the Refuse Fund and helps mitigate the need for further rate increases. Thank you for your understanding.

The estimated savings from the 6-week suspension of compost container collection.
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Thank you for your support of our efforts to divert waste from the landfill! We look forward to reporting back on the full survey results in the new year.

In the meantime, please leave any questions or comments below or send them to slcgreen[at]slcgov.com We love hearing from you!

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