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Recycling Guidelines

Following are recycling guidelines for Shaker Heights. 

What Belongs in Your Residential Recycling Container?

Five-gallon buckets are used for Shaker's recycling program. Please call Public Works at 216-491-1490 to request your free buckets.


  • Plastic bottles and jugs (items with a neck/opening that is narrower than the body)
  • Milk and juice cartons, soup and juice boxes
  • Steel and aluminum cans
  • Glass bottles and jars
  • Cardboard boxes, flattened
  • Mixed paper, junk mail, magazines, catalogs
  • Boxboard, flattened (like cereal boxes, toilet paper tubes, cracker boxes, etc.)

And follow these guidelines when recycling them:

  • NEVER bag your recyclables. NEVER. EVER.
  • Place comingled, loose (NOT in a bag) recyclables in recycling bucket
  • Empty and rinse all containers
  • Leave the caps and lids on
  • Request free recycling buckets by calling Public Works at 216-491-1490


Anything that's not on the above list, including:

  • Aluminum foil, baking trays, pie plates
  • Plastic bags and plastic wrap
  • Plastic clamshell containers (including those used for produce, prepared foods, and take-out items)
  • Plastic egg cartons
  • Styrofoam (including no meat trays, no Styrofoam egg cartons)
  • Single-use plastic food packaging (including yogurt containers, prepared food packaging, etc.)
  • Single-use cups, plates, utensils, or straws
  • Paper plates or cups (note: plastic lids for coffee cups are also not recyclable)
  • Paper, plastic or Styrofoam take-out containers
  • Frozen food containers
  • Greasy pizza boxes
  • Food scraps
  • Pots, pans, or ceramics
  • Glass and ceramic drinking glasses
  • Napkins or paper towels
  • Plastic or metal hangers
  • Wrapping paper

Due to the changing recycling market, the list of what is acceptable will change from time to time.

Want to know the biggest threat to the entire recycling program? A contaminated recycling stream (non-recyclables mixed in with recyclables).


ShakeRecycles logoCan't figure out what to do with a certain item? Visit or get the ShakeRecycles app to learn how to recycle some of the items not allowed in your residential recycling bucket (use the Waste Wizard).





Why does it seem that lately more and more materials are not recyclable?

Until recently, most plastics recycled in the United States were sent to China. But as of January 2018, China began enforcing its "National Sword" policy, which bans 24 types of solid waste, including mixed plastics and mixed papers. It also sets a much tougher standard for contamination levels for the materials China does still accept. This has left communities across the United States in a bind, as the market for certain recyclables has constricted considerably. Unfortunately, that's meant more plastics — including some that were once recyclable — must go in the trash.

It's also meant that recycling facilities — including those that process recyclables from Cuyahoga County — are cracking down on contamination. Communities throughout the County, including Shaker Heights, must lower contamination levels or risk fines and/or their recyclables being sent to the landfill. 

This article helps explain the current crisis:

Why do plastics have numbers inside recycling symbols if they’re not recyclable?

A number inside a recycling symbol does not mean an item should be tossed into your recycling bucket. The numbers on plastic containers are resin codes used by the plastics industry to identify the type of plastic used to make the container. Unfortunately, given the current problems in the recycling market (see above) not all plastics with the 1-7 symbol are recyclable at this time. As of August 2018, residents should only recycle plastic bottles and jugs. If it has an opening or a neck that's more narrow than the body), it can be placed in recycling.

Can some materials not allowed in a residential recycling bucket be recycled elsewhere?

In some cases, yes. For example, area stores — includng Giant Eagle, Whole Foods, and Target — accept plastic bags and plastic film for recycling (visit View our community recycling events for opportunities to recycle computer equipment and shredded paper. TerraCycle is another way to recycle many items not allowed in your in-home recycling container.

How can I keep up?

CCSWD logoWe recommend following the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District on TwitterFacebook or Instagram for ongoing advice and information about recyling in our region. You can also find helpful information about how to recycle correctly in Cuyahoga County, including here in Shaker, at 


Recycling Q&A (PDF) — This informative Q&A provides answers to many questions about the current state of recycling, plus offers easy guidelines for how to recycle correctly.

Recycling Guidelines (PDF) — A one-page guide to what belongs (and what doesn't belong) in your recycling bucket. (Note, since this PDF was created guidance on plastics has changed; please recycle ONLY plastic bottles and jugs.)

We Have a Contamination Situation (PDF) — When a recycling bucket is too contaminated, we often have no option but to throw everything in the trash. A one-page guide to common recycling contaminants. Also, check out another Contamination Situation graphic published in Shaker Life magazine.

Last updated: August 17, 2018

Saturday, August 18, 2018


summer 2018 cover website

Visit the online home of Shaker Life magazine.