Winston-Salem Recycling: What Can You Really Recycle?

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Winston-Salem recycling support varies from city to city. For those that live in the twin cities, here’s a list of things you can recycle. Anything not on this list should not be recycled at this time unless taken to a specific facility or using an online provider (for which we also provide details).

On this page you’ll find: Curbside Pickup Do’s and Don’ts | Details on Individual Items | Tips & Guidelines | Where to Recycle Hard to Recycle Items | Online Services | Questions?

Curbside Pickup

Here’s the do’s and don’ts for curbside pickup (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 open space around each 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.

List Of Things You Can Recycle Via Curbside Pickup

  • Glass Bottles & Jars – green, brown and clear only (no caps)
  • 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
  • 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.
  • Newspaper, magazines, catalogs, phone books
  • Plastic bottles and jugs #1 through #7 but only if the neck is smaller than the base of the package
  • Aluminum and Steel food and beverage cans, glass food and beverage jars/bottles, aerosol cans.
  • Cardboard Milk & Juice Cartons – but no bottle caps

List Of Items You Should NOT Recycle In Your Curbside Bin

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

  • Antifreeze containers
  • Batteries
  • Books – that includes binders and spiral notebooks
  • Ceramic containers or deli containers
  • Herbicide/Pesticides
  • Glass – dishes, drinking glasses, window glass, mirrors, etc.
  • Light Bulbs
  • Mirrors or Window Glass
  • Motor Oil Containers
  • Paint Cans
  • Plastics – bags, newspaper bags, wrap, toys, clamshells, containers, food trays, cups, etc.
  • Pots or Pans
  • Pyrex or Housewares containers or items (glass or ceramic)
  • Styrofoam
  • Wide-Mouth Plastic Containers
  • Boxes with food – pizza boxes or any cardboard boxes that are contaminated with food or grease residue.

More Details On Recycling Items

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.


You can recycle cereal boxes, dry food boxes, paper towel rolls, toilet paper rolls, etc. NO Styrofoam egg cartons, waxed aluminum foiled or plastic coated boxes, such as milk, juice cartons, frozen food cartons, etc. If the package 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 glass bottles are allowed. 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 (#5s can be taken to Whole Foods for recycling).

Note: Plastic clamshell containers generally used for salad, berries, tomatoes, herbs, etc. cannot be recycled via curbside pickup so do not include them in your bin.

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 clear plastic recycling bag, and placed in the Winston-Salem recycling cart.
  • Flatten corrugated cardboard boxes before placing them in the cart.

You can get the most up-to-date information on our city’s recycling programs on their recycling page. You can also call this number for specifics: 336-747-6970.

Where To Recycle #5s, Batteries, Bulbs, Electronics & Other “Hard to Recycle” Items

Cell Phones, Batteries & 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 inkjet cartridges and cell phones into the bag and place them into your mailbox for the USPS to deliver safe and sound.

Batteries Plus also offers recycling services for some of these items, so you may want to check with them.

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, Best Buy & Home Depot

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 accept plastic plant trays, pots and tags for recycling. More details on the Lowe’s recycling program.

Home Depot also accepts CFLs, rechargeable batteries and cell phones in receptacles near their customer service desks. More details on the Home Depot recycling program.

Best Buy accepts many electronics and appliances. More details on the Best Buy recycling program.

Take Your Plastic Caps To Aveda

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

#5 Plastics At Whole Foods

Plastic items marked with a recycling #5 and batteries can NOT go into your recycle bins here in Winston-Salem. Our local Whole Foods store on Miller Street accepts your #5 items (by the bakery section). However, alkaline batteries and plastic bags are no longer accepted.

Plastic Bags & Films

Most local grocery stores accept used plastic shopping bags and other plastic bags and films you may collect at home. Some of the plastics they accept include newspaper bags, produce bags, shopping bags, case wraps, plastic wrap from around napkins/paper towels/toilet paper/diapers, bread bags, food storage bags, air pillows from shipping containers, dry cleaning bags, and more.

The collection bins can be found outside the entrance doors at most Harris Teeter, Food Lion and other grocery stores.

Online Services

Three websites we’ve used ourselves and would highly recommend for recycling hard-to-recycle items:

Hazardous Household Item Disposal

If you have hazardous household items like old paint or large electronic items like TVs, computers, etc., please take them to the 3RC EnviroStation for safe disposal. This is not technically recycling but it is important to know about.

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.

What have you had difficulty recycling?


About The Author:

Alex has lived in Winston-Salem since 2004. He has seen the city grow up from a time when almost no one gathered downtown, to today's thriving and bustling city with great selections of restaurants, events, concerts, and more. He's proud to be part of the Arts and Innovation movement.

When he's not sipping a draft at Foothills brewery, chowing down on a tomato pie at Mozelle's for lunch, or dancing to bluegrass at the Ramkat, you'll catch him hitting balls at Miller Park, or hiking Pilot Mountain with his wife and two pups.

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