April 22, 2020, was Earth Day’s 50th anniversary. It also fell on a Wednesday, which means garbage pick-up day in my neighborhood, and a good time to review Redding’s recycling guidelines.
In Redding, all blue-bin recycling items that are collected curbside are taken to a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) at the city’s Transfer Station. There, everything is sorted along a conveyor belt, by hand. According to Christina Piles, former City of Redding Public Works Supervisor, this essential job has continued throughout the COVID-19 crisis, but they’ve enacted extra safety measures, including better distancing between workers, and slower processing.
Keeping in mind those workers who continue to sort our trash during a pandemic, it’s a good idea to review the contaminant lists provided by our sanitation services. There are many items we all think should be recycled, but unfortunately aren’t always. By contaminating recycle bins with these items, we are passing the problem on for someone else to cull out. Redding Solid Waste drivers are trained to observe the bins as they are being dumped into their trucks, and if they see too many contaminants, an entire truckload may be diverted to the landfill. In other words, one bad recycler can spoil the bunch.
Items allowed in Redding’s blue curbside recycling bins
Plastic milk jugs
Paper egg cartons
Laundry detergent jugs
Clean metal cans
Office paper and junk mail
Cereal and cracker boxes—without the inner liners
Cardboard (flattened to fit loosely in bin)
There are an additional four categories of plastic that are not allowed in the blue bins, but are accepted for drop-off at the recycling area of the Redding Transfer Station: Hard plastic, like toy boxes or plastic bins; #5 plastic containers; #6 rigid Styrofoam; and clean, light colored or clear plastic bags.
Items NOT allowed in Redding’s blue recycling bins
Cartons of milk
Concentrated juice containers
Cardboard-and-metal soup and/or ice cream containers
Yogurt, cottage cheese, sour cream or similar containers
Clear plastic clam shell containers
Microwave meal trays
Aluminum pie plates
Dog or cat food bags
Ceramic or china dishes
Hardbound or softbound books
Containers that held motor oil
Pots and pans
Aluminum pet food cans
Christmas tree lights
Clothing, blankets, towels (all fabric)
For more information and recycling guidance, visit the City of Redding’s Solid Waste/Recycling page.
For rural areas, such as for customers served by the county, the list of recyclables is longer, but how and if they sort those items, and whether there is even a market for them, is an unanswered question.
Jenny Abbe is the director of the James Abbe Archive at www.jamesabbe.com, and a member of the Democratic Central Committee of Shasta County. She is currently a volunteer courier for the Redding Fashion Alliance’s mask-making group.