Recyclable? Trash? Green Waste? Guide to Disposal

by / 12 Comments / 855 View / September 30, 2016

Thousand Oaks residents are encouraged to recycle at home.

Thousand Oaks residents are encouraged to recycle at home.

Have you ever had trouble deciding what goes into what colored cart, like I have? We hope to clear up any confusion you may have. Whether your trash hauler is Waste Management or Newbury Disposal, the guidelines are the same, as follows:

Q: What can I recycle in my recycle cart?
A: A lot of things can be recycled in your recycle bin. Most paper products, including newspaper, office paper, cardboard, food boxes (including clean frozen food boxes), magazines, and advertisements. Paper products must be free of food waste, pet waste, oil or excessive dirt. Cartons can now be included in your recycle bin! Cartons include soup cartons, tetrapaks, juice boxes, milk cartons, etc. Empty glass bottles and jars are recyclable, along with their lids, and empty metal and aluminum beverage and food containers can be recycled, as can disposable aluminum bakeware and clean foil. If aerosol cans are empty, dispose in the recycle bin. If it contains product, it must be disposed as hazardous waste. A lot of plastics can now be recycled. In addition to the old favorites—bottles, jugs and jars—you can now recycle clean plastic food packaging containers, including round yogurt and dairy tubs, clear PET #1 clamshell plastic, drink cups, deli trays, and berry baskets. All containers must be clean and contain no food waste or trash. Accepted non-food plastics include plant pots and garden trays, along with rigid plastics such as buckets, toys, and containers that held non-hazardous household products such as detergent or pet litter. Other non-food plastics include large items such as plastic crates, totes, laundry baskets, pallets, and lawn furniture. These types of items must usually be broken down to fit into your recycling cart. If they are jammed into the carts or protruding out of the carts, the recycling truck may not be able to empty your recycling cart.

Q: What types of plastics can I recycle in my recycle cart?
A: You can recycle a lot more! You can now recycle all clean rigid plastic food packaging, including dairy tubs, clear clamshells, cold drink cups, deli trays and berry baskets. You can also recycle plastic buckets, plant pots, tubs and even toys! No styrofoam, plastic film, bags, or utensils. Used gift cards can be recycled in a drop bin at Best Buy.

Q: Do food and beverage containers such as bottles and cans have to be washed out for recycling?
A: It is not necessary to wash out your glass bottles and jars or aluminum and steel cans. Just make sure that any excess product is removed by dumping it out scraping off the sides if necessary.

Q: Should I remove the labels from containers for recycling?
A: No, there is no need to remove the labels. They will be removed as the materials are processed for manufacturing.

Q: Are the bottle caps and jar lids recyclable?
A: Yes! All metal and plastic lids can now be recycled. The lids should be put back on the containers for recycling. To recycle food container tops from cans, stick them back down into the container. The sharp edges can be a hazard for recycling workers and the lid’s flat profile can cause the lid to slip between belts and gears and damage the processing equipment. Try leaving a small part of the top attached to the can and then fold it into the can.

Q: Are there types of paper that I should NOT recycle in the recycle bin?
Soiled paper is not accepted in your recycle bin. Also, chemically treated paper such as photographs, blue prints, and NCR (No Carbon Required) paper are not accepted.

Q: Can I recycle advertisements that come in the mail and with the newspaper?
Yes, recycle all junk mail and advertising, including CDs and DVDs. You can also recycle compact disks and DVDs at a dropbox at Best Buy.

Q: Can I recycle gift wrapping paper?
Yes, gift wrap made of paper is recyclable. But metallic or plastic wrapping paper should be kept out of the recycle bin.

Q: Do I have to remove things like staples, paper clips, and plastic windows to recycle paper?
No. The paper is turned into a watery pulp before it becomes a new product, and while the paper is in a pulp phase, non-fiber material will be removed by skimming, straining, and magnetic screening.

Q: Can paper and cardboard with tape on it be recycled?
Some tape is acceptable, but excessive tape can gum up production machinery and reduce operational efficiency, so you should try to remove as much tape as can easily be removed before recycling.

Q: Are pizza boxes recyclable?
Pizza boxes not heavily soiled with grease, cheese and food are recyclable. If the bottom is too soiled, the top might be OK to tear off and recycle.

Q: Do I have to separate the different types of materials for recycling?
A: No, do not separate the materials for recycling, with the exception of shredded paper. This needs to be placed in a bag before putting it in the recycle bin. A paper bag is preferred, but shredded paper is also accepted in a plastic bag. All other materials should be placed loose in your recycling bin.

Q: What goes in my green waste cart?
Leaves, grass and yard trimmings are also known as “green waste”. In addition, scrap lumber that is untreated, unpainted and without nails can also go in this bin. Please do not place palm and yucca fronds into the green waste cart as these will get caught in the machinery. Instead, place these into the trash cart. Please do not put animal waste in this cart as well.

Q: Why can’t I recycle plastic bags in the curbside program?
A: It is cost prohibitive to recycle plastic bags in the curbside program. The recycled bags have little value, and when collected in comingled programs they get badly contaminated, decreasing their value further. There are virtually no markets in the U.S. for curbside recovered plastic bags. A bigger problem with collecting plastic bags curbside is that they get wound up in collection and processing equipment, requiring maintenance that costs money and time, and creates inefficiencies for processing all the recyclables. Returning plastic bags to your supermarket is the most effective way to recycle them. The plastics stay clean and recyclable. The clean bags are backhauled to the chains’ warehouses where they are baled and either returned to the original bag suppliers with whom they have closed loop contracts for the recycling of the shopping bags or sold to other markets such as manufacturers of plastic lumber. Even better is to bring your own reusable bags when you shop.

Q: Can I recycle packing peanuts?
A: You cannot put packing peanuts in your recycling bin. However many mail houses such as UPS, Mailboxes, Etc. and FedEx will take them for reuse. Always call a business to confirm their current policy. Also, call the Peanut Hotline at 1-800-828-2214 for additional businesses that take packing peanuts.

Q: What happens to the recyclables after the City collects them?
A: For an example of how our city’s recyclables are processed, check out our blog where LeVar Burton of Reading Rainbow takes you on an enlightening tour of Gold Coast Recycling Center in Ventura.

Q: What about hazardous materials and chemicals?
A: The City of Thousand Oaks operates a state-of-the-art facility which accepts household products that contain corrosive, toxic, ignitable, or reactive ingredients that are considered household hazardous waste (HHW). The chemicals in these products, if not properly disposed of, can leak into ground soil and contaminate water sources in our environment. Disposal of hazardous waste at the facility is free to the residents of the City of Thousand Oaks and Unincorporated Ventura County, and is open every Friday and Saturday, except for major holidays. For more information and a list of accepted and non-accepted items, please visit our Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) site. Appointments are required through our easy online registration system by clicking here. For those without computers, the telephone number is (805) 376-5007


There are miscellaneous items that do not fit in any of the above categories, but still need to be disposed of properly in a way that doesn’t harm the environment or litter our community. Thousand Oaks residents may request up to two free collections and a total of four items picked up per calendar year. For more information, click on our bulky item pickup webpage here.

It goes without saying that before throwing things out, we should consider donating useful items to a local charity store. Click here for a list of local donation resources, many of which support local senior citizen or disadvantaged children.

For a handy list of what goes in each bin, please visit our Residential Recycling Guide.


12 Comment

  1. What should we do with used cooking oil?

  2. make popcorn with your used cooking oil or give it to a friend with a bio-diesel car or truck

  3. Jonathan, Thousand Oaks residents can bring cooking oil to our household hazardous waste facility in Newbury park and it will be recycled. To make an appointment, go to

  4. Thanks for this article. It is extremely helpful for those of us who are committed to recycling, and doing it correctly. My question is this: The article states that plastic food packaging containers “must be clean and contain no food waste.” It also states that “It is not necessary to wash out your glass bottles and jars or aluminum and steel cans.” This sounds to me like, unlike glass and metal, plastic containers must be washed before recycling. Am I interpreting correctly?

  5. John, no need to wash plastic containers of food residue. If there is actual leftover food inside, dump that out instead of leaving it in the container before recycling.

  6. […] Raise Awareness on Social Media You can spread the word about different recycling topics such as how and what to recycle at home, work/school and on-the-go; buying products made with recycled content; and educating and encouraging friends, family and neighbors to take the #BeRecycled Pledge as well. You can get ideas from our GoGreen website and GoGreen Blog. Check out one of our recent blogs about what goes in what bin. […]

  7. Now that the grocery stores don’t use plastic bags, will they need to facilitate the recycling of the bags? I have been using them for the newspaper sleeves.

  8. Joe, the grocery stores have been facilitating the recycling of plastic grocery bags for many years. They have special drop bins usually located near the store entrances where people can drop in plastic grocery bags. This is the only way to ensure plastic bags get recycled. If you put plastic bags in your trash or recycle bin at home, they will go directly into the landfill.

  9. Can I put potato peels, carrot tops, and other “clean” vegetable scraps in the green bin?

  10. Yes, you can put the veggie scraps in the green waste cart, as it is all organic waste.

  11. Can I recycle VHS tapes?

  12. Harry, yes you can recycle VHS tapes in your home recycling bin. However if the tapes are movies that you had purchased, you can donate those to Goodwill for them to resell them. Believe it or not, some people still have VCRs. Here is our residential recycling guide which contains a helpful chart of what goes in each bin.

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