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Recycling FAQ

Below is more information about the City of Grand Rapids Single Stream Recycling Project.


What is Single Stream Recycling?

Single stream recycling refers to a system in which all paper, cardboard, glass, metal and plastic that was currently separated into different recycling bins are now all placed together in one recycling cart. It is still important to follow the same guidelines for recycling preparation, except that now you simply put everything into one container.

Why should I recycle?

Recycling helps keep residential and City waste disposal costs low, while conserving resources for future generations, and it is easy and very convenient with single–stream curbside service. Recycling also helps reduce the need to build new landfills and saves energy by turning refuse into new materials for new products.

Who is eligible to recycle?

City of Grand Rapids residents with access to public streets may participate in this free program.

Are residents in condominiums eligible to participate in the recycling program?

Condominium associations must have a signed an agreement with the City Attorney's Office to allow the City trucks onto the private streets before residents are eligible for the recycling program.

Are residents in apartment complexes eligible to participate in the recycling program?

No. Residents in apartment complexes are not eligible for the City's recycling program. Please contact your apartment's management office to inquire about recycling through their licensed hauler.

Are businesses within the City eligible to participate in the recycling program?

Yes. Business may participate in the recycling program if they have access to a public/local street.

When will single stream recycling begin in Grand Rapids?

Single stream recycling is now available for City recyclers and your cart should have been delivered to you. If you have not received your cart, please contact the Streets and Sanitation Department at 456–3232.

What is the cost of the new Single Stream Recycling Program?

There is no out–of–pocket cost to City of Grand Rapids residents who participate in the program.

How do I sign up for single stream recycling?

You can sign up at Grand Rapids City Hall, Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, or by calling 456-3232. For additional information, please contact our office at 456–3232 or visit our website at

When and how do I get my recycling cart?

If you need to request a new cart, or you need a different size cart , please contact the Streets and Sanitation Department at 456–3232.

When and how often will my recycling be picked up?

Recycling is picked up every other week on the same day as your refuse is picked up. Click here for the recycling routes and collection schedule.

Why is the City doing biweekly collection?

Collecting recycling every other week reduces the number of trips into neighborhoods, which will reduce fuel consumption and emissions. It is also more cost efficient because most carts are full on collection day.

What is the estimated size of the carts?

The dimensions of the carts are:
64 gallon cart – 41.5"H x 24"W x 24"D
96 gallon cart – 46"H x 26"W x 34.5"D

I don't have room for a recycling cart; can I continue to use my recycling bins?

No. The recycling trucks have a semi–automatic tipper and will not be able to pick up the bins. And your old bin should have been collected at the time your cart was delivered.

Can I bag my recyclables before placing them in the cart?

No. Recyclables must be placed in the cart loose.

What if I have more recyclables than will fit in the cart? Can I use bags and set them alongside the cart?

No. Any items outside the cart will not be collected. Residents that determine their recycling volume exceeds their cart may contact the City's Streets and Sanitation Department at 456–3232 to request a larger cart.

How do I prepare my recyclables?

Accepted materials must be emptied and rinsed before being placed in the recycling cart. Cardboard should be flattened and cut to fit in the recycling cart. All items must be placed into the cart loose. Empty plastic bags with a #2 or #4 are allowed in the recycling cart. Garbage, yard waste or batteries are not allowed in the recycling cart. Please click here to go to our HOW DO I RECYCLE section for a more detailed description of recyclable preparation.

What material can be recycled in the new Single Stream Recycling Program?

All your current recyclables (paper, cardboard, glass, plastic containers #1–#7, aluminum and tin cans, plastic bags with a #2 or #4) will go into the recycling cart. Telephone books can now be placed into your recycling cart.

What material cannot be recycled?

Hard cover and paperback books, Styrofoam, plastic film wrap and batteries cannot be placed in the recycling cart. Hard cover and paperback books can be taken to a Paper Gator at a school or a church for donation; plastic film wrap need to be placed in the container with household trash. Batteries and Styrofoam can be taken to a drop–off location. For a list of drop off locations, go to

Where does all the recycling that is picked up by the City go?

The recycling is taken to Kent County's new Recycling and Education center located at 977 Wealthy Street SW.

Do I need to put my address on my recycling cart?

No. It is not necessary to mark the recycling cart. A serial number and the radio frequency identification tag (RFID tag) embedded in the cart will identify the cart to your address.

What if my recycling cart is stolen?

The City will assist in trying to locate the recycling cart through the RFID tag. If the cart is not recovered, a replacement card will be delivered to you.

If I move to a new address in the City, can I take my cart with me?

No. Please leave the cart for the next resident or contact the Streets and Sanitation Department at 456–3232 to make arrangements to have the cart picked up.

If I move to a new address outside of the City, can I take my cart with me?

No. The recycling carts are the property of the City of Grand Rapids. Contact the Streets and Sanitation Department at 456–3232 to arrange to have the cart picked up.

Who maintains the recycling cart?

The resident is responsible for keeping the recycling cart clean. The carts are built for the purpose of recycling and should be nearly maintenance free with normal wear and tear. Should you have any problems with the cart, contact the Streets and Sanitation Department at 456–3232.

Will the recycling cart be registered to a specific address?

Yes. Each recycling cart will have a unique serial number stamped on the front of the cart. In addition, the carts will also have an embedded radio frequency identification tag (RFID tag). Both the serial number and RFID tag will be registered to a specific address.

How do I dispose of hazardous waste such as oil–based paint, antifreeze, gasoline, motor oil, and chemicals?

Please contact the Kent County offices at 616–336–2570 or go to to schedule an appointment to dispose of all your hazardous waste products.

How do I dispose of latex paint?

Kitty litter can be added to latex paint cans. When the paint has hardened, you can put it in you household refuse for pick up.

How do I dispose of Styrofoam?

The following locations accept Styrofoam:

Team Industries accepts clean food grade, clean packing peanuts, block–style Styrofoam, packaging EPS foam. Hours are Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 4 PM. Drop off container is located in the front of the building at 4580 Airwest Drive SE, Kentwood. For more information call (616) 698–2001 ext. 35.

Harbor Form Inc. accepts clean Styrofoam meat trays, egg cartons, packing from around televisions and appliances, etc. Drop off location is located at 2950 Prairie St SW, Suite 300, Grandville. Call (616) 855–8150 or fax (616) 855–8149, for more information or go to

Who do I call if I have other questions?

You can contact the Grand Rapids Public Services Department at (616) 456–3232 between the hours of 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday with any questions concerning refuse, yard waste, recycling, curbs, alley grading, paving, potholes, wire baskets, dead animals in the street, illegal dumping, street sweeping, salt barrels, curb delineators, snow plowing graffiti removal and forestry.

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