Recycle Right: Orange or Blue?

Every year thousands of tons of recyclable materials are collected and sorted in Alachua County. Thanks to you, we have one of the highest recycling participation rates in Florida. That’s a huge win, but we’re only able to do this because you and your neighbors choose to Recycle Right! 

It all starts with the orange and blue bins. So let’s talk about what goes in each bin and how to prepare your recyclables.

Orange or Blue Bin?

In Alachua County the orange bin is for recycling cardboard boxes, paperboard, newspapers, magazines, phone books, office paper, junk mail and paper bags. The blue bin is for recycling glass bottles, jugs and jars, steel and aluminum cans, plastic bottles, jugs, jars and tubs, and food and beverage cartons.

Orange Bin:

Everything you need to know about the Orange Bin in Alachua County.

The orange bin is where you can recycle paper goods, cardboard and almost anything made of paper. However, there are some dos and don’ts to follow, so let’s take a deeper look at each type of recyclable.

Cardboard Boxes (corrugated)

For curbside collection, flatten empty boxes into pieces no larger than 4 ft. by 4 ft. and remove any plastic film or packing materials. You can place the cardboard into the orange bin or place it right underneath the orange bin.

DO NOT include any cardboard that is dirty or still has food on it. Pizza boxes that have grease on the bottom must be thrown out instead of recycled. However, if the top half is clean, tear it from the bottom and recycle it.

Paperboard – Paper egg cartons are okay

Paperboard includes common containers for many household items such as cereal boxes and toothpaste or paper towel rolls and even paper egg cartons. But be sure to remove any plastic windows on those boxes.

DO NOT include any bakery and donut boxes or paper plates and cups.

Newspapers, Magazines & Phone Books

If you’re wondering where to recycle newspapers, magazines and phone books, these also go in the orange bin. You’ll just want to make sure that there aren’t any non recyclable items within – so be sure to remove any magnets, any sticky ads on the cover, or any plastic wrap.

DO NOT include any paper made with foil or glitter.

Office Paper, Junk Mail & Paper Bags

If it’s made of paper, it’s most likely recyclable and belongs in the orange bin. Yes, even paperback books and manuals can be recycled using the orange bin. If you want to recycle shredded paper, the shreds must be placed inside closed paper (not plastic) bags and labeled “Shredded Paper” on the outside of each bag. Please note that there is a limit of two shredded paper bags per week. And after any holidays or birthdays, you may be wondering if that gift wrap is recyclable – if it’s plain wrapping paper – it is recyclable. 

DO NOT include any wrapping paper or gift bags that are glossy or have glitter. Do not include hardbound books, bubble envelopes, popcorn bags, pet food bags or photographs.

How should you prepare recyclable items for the Orange Bin?

  1. Flatten boxes into pieces no larger than 4 ft. by 4 ft. and place in, under, or next to your Orange recycle bin for collection.
  2. Remove all foam, plastic film, and other packing materials from boxes before setting them out for collection. Foam blocks and air-pillows are not accepted for curbside for recycling.

Blue Bin:

What you need to know about recycling in the Blue Bin in Alachua County.

The Blue Bin is for recycling most containers that are used for food and other household items. However, don’t assume that if it doesn’t go in the Orange Bin that it must go in the Blue Bin. There are some items that are not recyclable altogether and if they’re mistakenly included in either bin, it could be costly.

Here is what can be recycled using the blue bin:

Glass Bottles, Jugs & Jars

Food and beverage glass containers are recyclable as soon as it has been emptied and lightly rinsed of food residue. Remove lids, caps and corks before placing them into the blue bin.

DO NOT include glass vases, drinking glasses, ceramics or any broken glass or mirrors.

Plastic Bottle, Jugs & Jars

The same goes for plastic containers – remove all lids and caps and be sure to lightly rinse them.

DO NOT include plastic bags, wrap, or cups. Do not include Styrofoam® or foam materials. Do not include plastic clamshell, egg cartons or deli containers. Do not include plastic utensils, straws and microwavable trays.

Metal Cans (Steel & Aluminum)

Recycling aluminum cans requires only 5% of the energy needed to produce the same amount of aluminum from scratch. So the more you can recycle, the better! Before you place your aluminum beverage cans into the blue bin, please remove plastic shrink sleeves and adhesive labels. It is okay to place metal lids back in cans. Also, there is no need to flatten or crush any cans.

DO NOT include aluminum foil, pans or trays, scrap metal or any stainless steel water bottles or thermoses.

How should you prepare recyclable items for the Blue Bin?

  1. Be sure all bottles, cans, and cartons are empty of liquids and food residue has been rinsed out.
  2. Remove lids, caps, and corks from containers. Lids & caps can be disposed of in your garbage, and corks can be taken to drop-off locations for recycling.
  3. Remove all recyclables from plastic bags. Plastic bags are not accepted curbside for recycling.
  4. Stack the blue bin on top of the Orange Bin to help prevent litter and to keep papers dry.

If you’re not sure of where to recycle any item – consult the Zero Waste Wizard. This tool makes it easy to find whether an item belongs in the Orange or Blue Bin or in neither.

Also, feel free to save the below image for an easy reminder.


    Have more recycling questions? Fill out the form below, and we’ll do our best to get back to you within 48 hours. You can also sign up for email updates to stay in the know.

    For garbage cart or recycling bin requests, please call Alachua County’s Office of Waste Collection (352-338-3233).

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