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 they heard that the company that collects its recycling takes it to landfill, without attempting to recycle it, several neighbors responded that they would cancel the service.

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

A survey of companies in eastern Pima County, outside the city of Tucson, that collect the waste revealed that they all accept recycling and only take it to landfill when it is severely contaminated.

The two smaller companies may not accept recycling in neighborhoods when only one or two families want to recycle. Then it is not convenient.

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

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In some areas of the country, residents separate plastics, metals and paper and often glass in separate containers. This reduces contamination because it is very noticeable when each container has specific materials.

In the Tucson area we use single-stream recycling. Everything goes into a container and is sorted at the materials recovery facility. When everything goes into a trash can, it’s easier to make mistakes.

When one recycling hauler accepts glass and another does not, it is confusing.

When residents don’t believe that the things they put in their recycling bins are being recycled, but are instead taken to landfill, they feel it’s okay to put almost everything in their recycling bins on the sidewalk. Once they do, it is almost guaranteed that it will go to a landfill because the entire cargo will be contaminated.

The rules for recycling vary by company, which can create confusion among residents as to what is right to put in their bins.

Courtesy of the Services of the Republic

Never use the recycling bin for garbage. All waste and recycling companies in the area will work with someone who wants two trash cans and no recycling containers, or some other combination. This would be preferable to contaminated cargoes. Some may charge a fee for an extra 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 isn’t there. This includes plastic grocery bags, greasy pizza boxes, trash, and – something you may find hard to believe is regularly found in recycling bins – dirty diapers.

The mantra for all recycling companies is: “If in doubt, throw it away”.

Money laundering rules

These items are generally allowed in sidewalk recycling:

Plastic bottles and jugs n. 1-n. 7. Rinse them and then put the caps back on.

Corrugated cardboard as packing boxes. Break them apart and remove the excess packing tape. Pizza boxes are not accepted because they are greasy. If the top is clean, tear it off and put it in the recycling bin without the bottom.

Cardboard such as cereal or pasta boxes.

Milk and juice containers, if clean.

Junk mail and office paper.

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

All items must 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 recycling on the pavement. When ordered by machine, these smaller things can fall through the machine.

Never put plastic shopping bags or other flexible plastic materials such as bubble wrap and cellophane in sidewalk recycling. These can be recycled in most grocery stores.

There is much more that is recyclable and much more that is not recyclable. Check your company website for details.

Environmental Services of Tucson, 520-791-5000

If you live in the city of Tucson, your garbage and recycling are handled by Tucson. Recycling is collected every two weeks and taken to the ReCommunity Recycling Center, owned by Republic Services.

Both garbage and recycling bins are provided by the city.

Tucson does not accept glass in sidewalk recycling. However, you can drop glass bottles and jars in several places, which you will find online at

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

Rates vary by location, agreements with homeowner associations, how often a pickup is required, and other factors.

Both garbage and recycling bins are provided.

Waste Management accepts items on the standard list, but also accepts glass bottles and jars, and is willing to pay a little extra to recycle them. Torn paper is not allowed.

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

Silver Point Disposal, 520-477-7961

Residential recycling is taken to the Marana regional landfill in single-stream recycling bins there. Waste management then brings the content to the ReCommunity Recycling Center.

Quarterly rates are generally $ 65 for biweekly collection with some variation based on location. Discounts are available for military, rescuers, and teachers, but you need to ask.

A container is provided. Customers should put the loose recycling – no plastic bags – on the bottom and put all the garbage in the garbage bags on top. The garbage bags will be separated at the time of collection.

This is an individual operation, so owner Stephen Squires sees the contamination right away. More than the occasional mistake and the customer is notified by email or SMS.

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

Squires will also collect any other items if notified in advance by customers. It will collect yard waste, appliances, and any large items. He will take them to the appropriate places for recycling when appropriate and to the landfill if that is the only option. It will also collect hazardous waste separately if notified in advance.

Those who are not Silver Point Disposal customers can call Squires to arrange the pickup of anything that cannot be left for their regular hauler. The rate will depend on what the pickup is and where it needs to go.

Hughes Sanitation LLC, 520-883-5868

Residential recycling is brought to the Tucson Transfer Station on Ina Road. Residents can no longer leave their recycling in this place.

The rate is up to $ 10 per month for pickup every other week. Trash containers are provided. There is an additional cost if a second basket is requested. Customers provide their own recycling bin.

Hughes Sanitation accepts the standard list of recyclable materials with the exception of plastic and glass No. 2-n. 7.

If contamination is detected, leaflets are left for the customer.

Employees work on sorting machinery at the Republic Services recycling center in Tucson.

Rebecca Sasnett, star of the Arizona newspaper

Republic services and, 520-745-8820

Recycling is brought to the Republic Services Materials Recovery Facility.

Waste and recycling are collected once a week. Rates vary based on location and HOA contracts. Trash and recycling bins are provided; different sizes are available.

Operators try to control contamination, but usually use automatic side loaders, so control is not easy.

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

Immediate Disposal (RAD), 520-881-4227

RAD is now Waste Connections of Arizona. Go to for a full list of what’s accepted.

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

Containers are provided. Rates vary based on location and other circumstances.

The RAD suspended recycling services for a few months at the start of COVID because recycling was sorted by hand and was prudent for the sake of its employees. We go back to recycling regularly.

Stay in the apartment

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

Talk to the manager of your complex and try to get him to add recycling bins near the dumpster.

Take your recycling to a neighborhood recycling center. You’ll 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 Since 1991 she has been with the Star in various capacities.


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