Here’s why your recycling sometimes ends up in a Tucson landfill | Local News

After a Tucson-area resident shared on the Nextdoor app that she heard the company that collects her recycling takes it to the landfill, without trying to recycle it, several neighbors responded that they would cancel their service.

Is the rumor true? The answer is, it depends.

A survey of businesses in eastern Pima County, outside of the city of Tucson, that collect garbage found that they all accepted recycling and only took it to the landfill when it was seriously contaminated.

The two smallest businesses may not accept recycling in neighborhoods when only one or two households want to recycle. Then it’s not profitable.

Recycling is confusing. there is no doubt. Winter visitors to Tucson may find it even more so if the rules are different from those at their summer homes.

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In some parts of the country, residents separate their plastics, metals and papers and often their glass into separate bins. This reduces contamination as it is very evident when each bin contains specific materials.

In the Tucson area, we use single-stream recycling. Everything goes in a single bin, and it’s sorted at the dump. When everything goes in the same bin, it’s easier to make mistakes.

When one recycler accepts glass and another doesn’t, it’s confusing.

When residents don’t believe the things they put in their recycling containers get recycled, but instead go to landfill, they feel it’s okay to put almost anything in their recycling containers. curbside recycling. Once they’ve done that, it’s almost guaranteed that they’ll go to a landfill, as the whole load will be contaminated.

Recycling rules vary from business to business, which can confuse residents about what is acceptable to put in their bins.

With the kind authorization of the services of the Republic

Never use your recycling container for garbage. All waste and recycling companies in the area will work with someone who wants two bins and no recycling containers, or some other combination. This would be preferable to contaminated loads. Some may charge a fee for an additional container.

The most important thing to know about recycling in Tucson and Pima County is that you shouldn’t put anything in your recycling bin that doesn’t belong there. This includes plastic grocery bags, greasy pizza boxes, trash, and – what you might find hard to believe are regularly found in recycling bins – dirty diapers.

The mantra of all recycling companies is: “When in doubt, throw it out.”

Recycling rules

These items are generally allowed in curbside recycling:

#1-#7 plastic bottles and jugs. Rinse them then replace the plugs.

Corrugated cardboard like the packaging boxes. Break them down and remove excess packing tape. Pizza boxes are not accepted as they are greasy. If the top is clean, tear it off and recycle it without the bottom.

Cardboard like cereal or pasta boxes.

Milk and juice cartons, if clean.

Junk mail and office paper.

Aluminum cans and other metal cans. You can leave the labels.

All items should be clean with no food or grease on or inside.

As a general rule, don’t put anything smaller than a tennis ball in the curbside collection. When sorted by machine, these little things can fall through the machines.

Never put plastic grocery bags or other soft plastic materials such as bubble wrap and cellophane in the curbside. These can be recycled at most grocery stores.

There is a lot more that is recyclable and a lot more that is not. Check your company’s website for details.

Tucson Environmental Services, 520-791-5000

If you live in the city of Tucson, your waste and recycling is handled by Tucson. Recycling is picked up every two weeks and sent to the ReCommunity Recycling Center, owned by Republic Services.

Garbage cans and recycling containers are provided by the city.

Tucson does not accept glass for curbside recycling. However, there are several places you can drop off glass bottles and jars, which you can find online at

Recycling is sent to the ReCommunity Recycling Center, owned by Republic Services.

Fees vary based on location, agreements with homeowners associations, frequency of pickup needed, and other factors.

Bins and recycling containers are provided.

Waste Management accepts standard list items, but they also accept glass bottles and jars and are willing to pay a small fee to recycle it. Shredded paper is not allowed.

If the material recovery facility reports heavy contamination from a specific truck, operators will be more vigilant in neighborhoods than truck services and may try to educate customers about what is allowed in curbside recycling.

Elimination of money points


Residential recycling is sent to the Marana regional landfill in single-stream recycling containers. Waste Management then brings the contents to the ReCommunity recycling center.

Quarterly fees are typically $65 for bi-weekly collection with some variation depending on location. Discounts are available for military, first responders, and teachers, but you have to ask.

A container is provided. Guests should put loose recycling – no plastic bags – at the bottom and put all trash in bin bags on top. Garbage bags will be separated when picked up.

This is a one-man operation, so owner Stephen Squires sees the contamination right away. Nothing more than an occasional error and the customer is notified by e-mail or SMS.

Silver Point Disposal accepts the standard list of recyclables and glass bottles and jars.

Squires will also be doing pick ups of almost all other items if customers are notified in advance. It will pick up yard waste, appliances, and just about any large item. He will take them to appropriate places to recycle them if necessary and to the landfill, if that is the only option. He will also take hazardous waste separately if notified in advance.

Non-Silver Point Disposal customers can call Squires to arrange pick up of something that cannot be left with their regular carrier. Charges will depend on the nature of the pickup and where it needs to go.

Hughes Remediation Services LLC


Residential recycling is delivered to the Tucson Transfer Station on Ina Road. Residents can no longer drop off their own recycling there.

Fees can be as high as $10 per month for a bi-weekly pickup. Bins are provided. Additional charges apply if a second bin is requested. Customers provide their own recycling container.

Hughes Sanitation accepts the standard list of recyclable materials with the exception of #2-#7 plastics and glass.

If contamination is observed, leaflets are left with the customer.

Employees work on sorting machines at the Republic Services Recycling Center in Tucson.

Rebecca Sasnett, Arizona Daily Star

Republic Services and recyclingsimplifié.com520-745-8820

Recycling is sent to Republic Services’ Material Recovery Facility.

Garbage and recycling are picked up once a week. Fees vary by location and HOA contracts. Trash cans and recycling containers are provided; different sizes are available.

Operators try to monitor for contamination, but generally use automatic sideloaders, so checking is not easy.

Republic accepts the standard list of recyclable materials, including glass bottles and jars.

Immediate Elimination (RAD)

RAD is now called Waste Connections of Arizona. Go to for a complete list of what is accepted.

Recycling is taken to a materials recovery facility in Apache Junction and sorted by hand.

Containers are provided. Fees vary depending on location and other circumstances.

RAD suspended recycling services for a few months at the onset of COVID because recycling was being sorted by hand and being careful for the sake of its employees. He is back to recycling regularly.

Apartment living

What if you lived in an apartment that doesn’t have recycling?

Talk to your resort manager and try to convince him to add recycling containers near the dumpster.

Take your recycling to a neighborhood recycling center. You can find a list of those in Tucson at and Pima County recycling information at

Johanna Eubank is a digital producer for the Arizona Daily Star and She has been with the Star in various capacities since 1991.