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Winston-Salem Recycling: What Can You Really Recycle?

Winston-Salem recycling support varies from city to city. For those that live in our local community, Winston-Salem, NC, here’s a list of things you should recycle. Anything not on this list should not be recycled at this time unless taken to a specific facility. These exceptions are outlined below.

List Of Things You Can Recycle via Curbside Pickup in Winston-Salem

  • Corrugated cardboard – flattened and no larger that 3×3 feet (larger cardboard boxes may be taken to collection sites located throughout the city – see below)
  • Junk mail and office paper such as envelopes, notebook paper, office paper
  • Chipboard (usually brown or gray on the inside) such as cereal boxes, paper towel cores, facial tissue boxes, etc. Please remove any foil or plastic liners.
  • Newspapermagazinesphone books
  • Plastic bottles #1 through #7
  • Aluminum and steel food and beverage cans, glass food and beverage jars/bottles, aerosol cans.

List Of Items You Should NOT Recycle In Winston-Salem

Again, we repeat – please DO NOT include the following items in your curbside recycle bin!

  • Aluminum - foil, pie tins, scraps, etc.
  • Antifreeze containers
  • Books - that includes binders and spiral notebooks
  • Ceramic containers or deli containers
  • Glass - dishes, drinking glasses, window glass, mirrors, etc.
  • Light bulbs
  • Motor oil containers
  • Paint cans
  • Plastics - bags, newspaper bags, wrap, etc.
  • Pyrex containers
  • Styrofoam
  • Boxes with food – pizza boxes or any cardboard boxes that are contaminated with food or grease residue.

More Details On What NOT To Recycle

Ever wonder if a particular piece of cardboard or plastic can be recycled? Can you recycle cereal boxes, for example? Can you recycle plastic or cardboard that doesn’t have the recycling symbol on it? Below is some more detail on what you should, and should not, recycle.

Chipboard – this would be cereal boxes, dry food boxes, paper towel rolls, toilet paper rolls. NO Styrofoam egg cartons, waxed aluminum foiled or plastic coated boxes, such as milk, juice cartons, frozen food cartons, etc. If the pkg has inside chipboard it can be recycled. NO pizza boxes, boxes with grease or food residue, or packing materials.

Glass bottles – only clear, green or brown. NO ceramics, dishes, drinking glasses, light bulbs, mirrors, Pyrex, window glass or any glass that is not a container.

Plastic bottles & jugs – The neck of the container must be smaller than the base or widest part. NO bottle caps or tops, containers that are not bottles, such as deli or yogurt containers, margarine tubs or wide-mouth prescription bottles.

Winston-Salem Recycling Tips and Guidelines

  • Do not place any recyclables in plastic bags.
  • Empty aerosol cans and remove the lids.
  • Remove caps and lids from glass food and beverage jars and bottles. Rinse the jars and bottles.
  • Rinse and flatten cans. If you use the type of can opener that leaves a sharp edge on the lid, stop before completely removing the lid and then push the lid down inside the can before flattening it.
  • Remove caps from plastic bottles, rinse and flatten. Plastic bottles #1 through #7 are accepted.
  • Remove newspapers from the plastic sleeve. No plastic bags are accepted.
  • Remove the plastic and foil liners from chipboard containers.
  • Shredded office paper may be placed in a brown paper bag in such a way as to reduce litter, and placed in the Winston-Salem recycling cart.
  • Flatten corrugated cardboard boxes before placing them in the cart.

Rollout Cart Program

The city now offers rollout Winston-Salem recycling carts that are picked up on a bi-weekly basis. These carts hold five-times as much as the green bins and protect materials to be recycled from the weather. Biweekly collection saves fuel, reduces emissions and saves you trips to the curb. Because the pickup is automated, here are some guidelines that will help with collection.
  • No sorting required. All items to be recycled can mingle in the cart.
  • Be sure the lid closes.
  • Put your cart out at the edge of the curb (not in the street) with the front of the cart facing the street.
  • Leave at least three feet of space around the cart.
  • Do not place the cart under low-lying limbs or power lines.
  • Put your cart out by 6 a.m. and remove by the next day.

Where To Recycle #5s, Electronics & Other Items In Winston-Salem

#5 Plastics & Batteries at Whole Foods

Plastic items marked with a recycling #5 and batteries can NOT go into your recycle bins here in Winston-Salem. But, our local Whole Foods store on Miller Street has setup a program to accept your #5 items and batteries for collection and recycling. So, gather them up at home and then make the trip to Whole Foods to make sure these are recycled appropriately. Thank you Whole Foods!

Cell Phones & Printer Cartridges

These can be mailed in to the City of Winston-Salem. Just pick up a pre-labeled bag for mailing in the Lobby of the Bryce A. Stuart Municipal Building (100 East First Street downtown) or call 336-727-8153 for more details. Then put your empty inkjey cartridges and cell phones into the bag and place them into your mailbox for the USPS to deliver safe and sound.

Recycle Electronics at Goodwill

Electronics can also be troublesome in that it is often dangerous to dispose of these items through traditional waste removal routes. So, take your unusable electronics to any of the local Goodwill of Northwest locations around Winston-Salem. This includes computers, printers and monitors. It does not matter where you bought it – just bring it, and they will take care of it properly. And there’s an added bonus: the donation is tax-deductible, so this is a great option to get a little return on your investment while also making our city a better place.

Electronics at Lowes Home Improvement & Home Depot Too

Lowes Home Improvement, a North Carolina company, offers recycling at the store entrance for customers to recycle cell phones, rechargeable batteries, compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) and plastic shopping bags. They also offer a recycling program for wood pallets and will recycle your old appliances with the purchase of a new one. Lowes Garden Centers also now accept plastic plant trays, pots and tags to recycle.

Home Depot also accepts CFLs, rechargeable batteries and cell phones in receptacles near their customer service desks.

Take your Plastic Caps to Aveda

Plastic twist-off caps and lids can be recycled at Aveda salons.

Keep Winston-Salem And North Carolina Green!

That’s it! Might seem like a lot at first but you’ll get the hang of it quickly. And if you consider that the people in New York put out enough trash each day to fill the Empire State Building, you start to realize the impact your little recycling efforts have. If everyone recycled and composted instead of throwing everything into the trash, we could cut the amount of trash produced by more than half. You’ll probably notice yourself that once you get into recycling, and especially if you decide to compost as well, that you’re wheeling your trash can to the street less and less.

Source: www.cityofws.org/departments/sanitation/collections/recycle-today

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About Alex Schenker
Alex is a Winstonite (and Salemite) and tennis enthusiast. You'll catch him hitting balls at Miller Park, grabing a cold beer at 1st Street Draft House, or chowing down on a tasty tomato pie at Mozelle's just about any day of the week.
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  • My Winston-Salem

    Normally you want to take your yard can, because at least in Winston-Salem, you paid for it and the sticker on it is your license to use it. You can re-order trash and recycling bins for the new house since they're a free, public service. But confirm with your city by calling their sanitation department either way.

  • My Winston-Salem

    Check out our section on #5 plastic in the article above for details. You cannot put them in your curbside bin. 

    For materials that don't have a number printed on them, it's possible that your plastic container covers are made of recyclable material. Contact the manufacturer to find out. If you can't get a hold of them, try the city to see if they know.

  • My Winston-Salem

    Do you mean plastic? What brand are you buying that makes their juice containers out of wax? The milk and OJ, etc. containers you find at your local grocery store (the square, tall, plastic coated paper ones) cannot be recycled.

  • My Winston-Salem

    Pizza boxes are a no no. Even if you've cleaned out all the pizza, the oils from the cheese permeate the cardboard and make it inadequate for recycling.

  • My Winston-Salem

    Not in the curbside recycling bin, but several locations accept them. Checkout the electronics section in the article above for details.

  • Anonymous

    Nice post. Plastic items marked with a recycling #5 can NOT go into your recycle bins here in Winston-Salem. But, our local Whole Foods store on Miller Street has started a program to accept your #5 items and recycle them. So, gather them up at home and then make the trip to Whole Foods to make sure these are recycled appropriately. Thanks a lot for posting this article.

  • Anonymous

    I also hope it is inspirational for the residents of Winston-Salem to start doing their part in recycling waste.  The article focused on curb-side recycling for the most part although it was nice to see the other ways to recycle was mentioned.  Grocery stores have proven themselves as a great help in the fight to save Earth’s resources, since they offer bottle returns and plastic recycling, as well.  Many grocery or supply stores will also accept other materials for recycling, too.  And grocery and other stores are also playing a key role by offering Earth-friendly compostable silverware, cups and dishes in delis, post-consumer recycled paper bags, bulk goods, and alternative products that use less packaging materials.  Choosing these options sends companies the message that you support eco-friendly options, and is an easy way to make less waste so that you will have less recycling and trash to sort through come garbage day.

    Of course, this is because recycling is only one part of the cycle.  Reducing waste by reducing consumption, like wherever possible using less packaging materials, only printing out necessary emails or papers, and turning off the water while brushing your teeth.  Reducing is the first part of the cycle.  Re-using things whenever possible is the second half of this cycle, and this is the part where donating your electronics comes in.  Re-use also applies to more everyday things like shopping bags, but can also mean donating clothing, furniture, dishes, and so forth.  The final piece of the puzzle is recycling, and this is where the article comes in.  Recycling simply means to take something old and make it into something new again.  Paper, plastic, and aluminum can all be recycled, as well as everything listed in this article, and even more.  If each person takes part, the world will be a greener place for everyone.

    There are a number of ways in which each person and family can do their share to help recycle. An easy way is to buy recycled paper (and other products). Print or use both sides of the paper. Also, you can even cut this up into smaller pieces and use them as scrap paper notebooks or note pads.

    Instead of throwing your old computer and technology products into the garbage, recycle them. This will help to put a dent in the two million tons of electronic waste that Americans simply throw away each year.

    Try to only buy products which have been made from other recycled products. If this is not possible, then look for recycled product packaging.

    Overall, Winston-Salem really does seem like a cool place to live.  I read another article about the new Trader Joe's that is coming there and I thought, Wow, I really need to check into seeing if there is a Trader Joe’s near my hometown!  I personally have never shopped at one, although I have heard of them before and people seem to be pretty enthusiastic in their support of the stores.

  • Anonymous

    I must admit to being surprised that milk cartons are not accepted at this time, since these seem to be a standard for recycled packaging and most cities do accept these. Furthermore, nearly every household has them so this equates to a lot of waste when you add it all up.  Local grocery stores, in addition to recycling centers, are very likely to take these in for recycling, so it is well worth the initial effort to check and see where milk (and juice) cartons can be brought in.

    On the other hand, just as surprising is Winston-Salem’s progressive acceptance of aerosol cans.  Although these in and of themselves are quite bad for the environment, it is nice to see that they can be recycled properly.  However, the inner proactive environmentalist in me must of course advise you to avoid aerosol if at all possible, since these cans release harmful chemicals into the air.  Pump sprays are a good alternative, and most of the materials on a pump spray may be recycled.

    Finally, the article was great in listing where to take electronics and number five plastics.  Plastic is great to recycle, and it is worth the extra effort to so because of the amount of petroleum saved.  Each new plastic bottle, box, or carton requires our finite supply of petroleum to become more and more depleted.  And electronics that can be re-used or salvages for parts are great treasures to the recipients, so donating them really is giving a gift.  I like to think that giving away things that I do not need or really want anymore is a gift to myself in some ways too, since it frees up space in my home for something else that I will use and enjoy.  The tax deduction part makes this even more enticing, if you need that extra encouragement to recycle and re-use rather than simply tossing something away.

    Other things you do to be green will save you money, too.  For instance, recycling not only saves the earth, but it also saves your trash bill– an important point that the authors touched upon right at the end of the article.  The real fact is, if your waste is going into the recycling bin, it is not going into your trash can, and that not only means saving the earth, but saving money as well.  A double bonus for everyone.

    I guess I did not realize that they are taking the “Whole Foods” angle but still trying to appeal to the mostly price-based shopper.  I question how they are able to do this, but I suppose some of that has to do with marketing strategy and relationships with food suppliers.  I usually do not tend to be very picky when it comes to my grocery list, I base my decisions mostly on price and nutrition.

  • My Winston-Salem

    Hi there,

    Excellent question! You can't technically recycle most Christmas wrapping paper (unless specifically mentioned that it's recyclable, the paper tends to contain elements that can't easily be processed for recycling). However, if you open your presents carefully, you should be able to simply reuse your wrapping paper, which one ups recycling by conserving 100% of the resource!

    :)

  • My Winston-Salem

    In general, you want to cut it up so it fits nicely within your recycle bin (they don't like it if you stack it up on the curb beside the bin, or leave whole boxes). Also, generally you can only recycle cardboard that is pure cardboard – ie. not coated in gloss on one side as is typical with packaged consumer goods.

    That being said, the rules also vary by district. Call your local recycling authority to find out the specifics for your city.

    Let us know how it goes! We're always looking forward to hearing updates on what local recycling programs are and are not accepting.

  • My Winston-Salem

    As long as the cardboard fits in your recycling bin without completely overflowing, they should take it. If not, I would complain!

    Note that you can ask them to deliver more than one recycling bin to your property (we use two).

  • Anonymous

    Not being familiar with the city local recycling laws of Winston-Salem, NC myself, this article interested me. It seems that the city has a decent situation as far as what they will accept and not accept at curb-side recycling.  From this list, you can definitely tell that the city is progressive and proactive in what recycling plants are able to work with.

    I remember the days many years ago when only certain numbers of plastic were recyclable, and they had to be sorted by number.  The recycling process in general discouraged almost anyone who was not on a specific mission to recycle.  You had to know what you were doing and plan in advance in order to bring everything to the recycling center.  For curbside recycling, you needed a free half hour to an hour to specifically sort through everything that was recyclable, and you had to know what would or would not be taken.  On that note, this article serves nicely as a guide for anyone who is interested in reducing waste and getting into recycling.  You can basically print it out and put it up next to your recycling bin to see what will and will not be recycled.  This kind of guideline encourages anyone to recycle, because it clearly lists what will and will not be taken at pickup.

    I was not surprised by reading the list of what is not included in the recycling pickup, but it did make me wonder what could be done to be more green with some of those items.  The first thing I could think of is to reduce consumption of these items, of course.  Using recyclable plastic packing instead of Styrofoam, and glass or re-usable tin pie dishes instead of disposable when baking on your own.  It is unfortunate that pizza boxes or others contaminated with residue are not accepted at this time, since this constitutes a big part of the packaging that we use today.  Since some cities that I know of do accept these types of chipboard even if they have food residue, I wonder whether there are different technologies that those plants have that allow those to be accepted.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, I guess every city is different, but wow, Winston-Salem has quite a bit of rules.  I am not much of a recycler, and I really need to be better.  However, I do reuse many items since I am the creative, artsy type, so even if I cannot find an artistic use for it, I try to figure out a way to clean some things and use them again for something else.  Clothes are great for this, and there are tons of cool, free patterns online to turn t-shirts into dresses and projects like this, fun, fun, fun.

    I have to admit, that this article almost makes me not want to recycle…almost.  The list is so long and complicated.  Well, actually, it is not that long, it is just when you think about applying it to your real life, and your real household, then it becomes dizzying and unrealistic.

    It almost makes no sense that you cannot recycle some of those various types of chipboard and colored glass bottles.  It also would make you feel bad for throwing away all that un-recyclable stuff.  I mean there is actually a lot of stuff on that list that you cannot recycle, but I guess that over time, many towns get the capability to recycle many more things, so that is always good.  I think this type of thing could reasonably happen in Winston-Salem within the next decade or so.

    When it comes to colored glass bottles, you can use them for flower vases or home décor if you fill them with attractive beads or pebbles, but who knows what you can do with the odd chipboard bits and the greasy pizza boxes.

  • Anonymous

    Where can I recycle old electronics?

  • Anonymous

    I flatten my boxes of cardboard and made sure they were smaller than 3×3. When they didn't pick it up I called and asked why they left a voice mail a few days later and said I had too much. I want to know how much I can do at one time so I can put that much out for a few weeks till it's gone.

  • Anonymous

    Recycling is a must. Yes, these days we have to intentionally care for planet Earth. Let's face it folks, health matters!

  • Anonymous

    What are the exact rules for cardboard. I have some no bigger than 3×3 and they don't pick it up, sometimes they do. I don't know what I'm doing wrong.

  • Anonymous

    Can I recycle wrapping paper from Christmas presents?

  • Anonymous

    What about pizza boxes? I've cleaned out all the food, so as far as I can tell all that's left is cardboard…

  • Anonymous

    Can you recycle these?

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for posting the article on recycling items in W-S. May I know what the procedure is for recycling these listed items? Also, can tablet wrappers be recycled?

  • Anonymous

    Can I recycle covers to plastic containers which are marked #5? I recently had some left at the curb when I put them out in my bin.

  • Anonymous

    We're moving, and our new place has a trash can, but no recycling or yard cans. Should we move them from our existing house or order new ones?

  • Anonymous

    I still do not understand how to "package" everything into separate "bundles" into the recycling bin. In other words, how do I divide the cans from the paper, etc. Do I put each bundle in a bag or all together?

  • My Winston-Salem

    4/14/09 Update – we just got off the phone with Winston-Salem recycling. We had lost our recycling bin and they are in the process of sending a new one. The phone rep actually encouraged us to take two, and asked us to please separate materials (papers and cardboard in one, plastics and bottles in the other).

    As far as we can tell you can put it all in together. It's probably not the best idea to have, say, a yogurt can within a milk bottle within a cereal box – but as long as you keep individual items separate you should be okay.

  • Anonymous

    Can you recycle a thing that has foil in it (aluminum)?

  • Anonymous

    Can I recycle photos?

  • My Winston-Salem

    Don't put them in your recycling bin. In lots of cases, items you can't directly recycle can creatively be put to use. You could donate them to a local craft store that could use them in a scrap booking class. You could also donate them to schools, etc.

    As for the photo paper itself, here's an official response from Kodak:

    Waste photographic paper is not generally recoverable. Most papers are coated with a very thin layer of polythene to control water absorption and speed drying, and should not therefore be mixed with other waste paper destined for conventional paper recovery.

    Waste photographic paper should be disposed of by incineration with energy recovery. If suitable incineration facilities are unavailable; the waste may be disposed of to landfill without risk of adverse environmental effects.

  • Anonymous

    My office produces a very small amount of shredded paper, which often includes plastic from cards (such as credit cards), maybe a staple or two, and plastic from envelope windows. I've heard you can't recycle shredded paper curbside. Is there another way to recycle it?

  • My Winston-Salem

    You're correct in that shredded paper should not be submitted to curb side (ie. neighborhood) recycling programs, or placed in your recycling bin. However, you can often drop it off at the recycling center itself in the paperboard bin. The drop-off center will recycle your shredded paper without sending it through the sorting lines (where curbside recycled paper goes).

    If shredded paper ends up in the sorting lines, it can not only damage recycling equipment, but it ultimately ends up as trash anyways as it gets filtered out. You should look into local office recycling programs, organized by your local recycling hauler – many will offer you a separate bin for shredded materials.

    Winston-Salem residents – we just got off the W-S recycling hotline and found out that they do accept shredded paper curbside – but make sure the shredded material only contains paper and that you place it in a separate bag. Ie. no shredded credit cards, staples, etc. It's okay to include shredded plastic windows that are part of mailing envelopes. 

  • Anonymous

    Nice post on recycling. Is there any way to get a list of all your recycling articles? Ie. all your articles that have been tagged with the word "recycling"?

  • Anonymous

    Can I include post it notes and other papers that have the "sticky" strip on them in the recycling? Or will the sticky thing gum up and screw up the recycling machines?

  • Anonymous

    Can I recycle business cards, regardless of the finish on them – ie. matte or glossy? And is there a limit to the thickness of paper stock that can be recycled?

  • Anonymous

    Can I recycle clementine boxes made of wood? It seems that I could, but there's quite a bit of clementine smear and guck on the wood – so not sure if that will gum up the recycling machines?

  • Anonymous

    Recycling is first about responsibility. As I work in a movers company we only deal with cardboard boxes and disposables. Our perspective in recycling is real, we have contracts that mention recycling clauses so that every product that needs recycling reaches the destination.