Recycling

Waste and Resources Manager

Patience Melnik
pmelnik@knoxvilletn.gov
400 Main St.
Knoxville, TN 37902

Report trash, recycling or cart issues to (865) 215-4311 or 311office@knoxvilletn.gov

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Makenzie Read 
Waste and Resources Coordinator
mread@knoxvilletn.gov
865-215-2817


NOTICE REGARDING HOLIDAYS: “When in doubt, set it out!” Thanksgiving and Christmas are the only days of the year when curbside trash and recycling are not picked up as scheduled. For the week following those two holidays, collection is delayed by one day and Sanitation Workers work through Saturday to catch up. The following Monday, service resumes as usual.


Report Missed Pickup Sign Up for Curbside Recycling
What's My Service Day? Can I Recycle This?
Curbside Recycling Guide Recycling Drop-Off Centers
FAQs Resources


THE CITY OF KNOXVILLE'S RECYCLING PROGRAM

The City of Knoxville's recycling program started in the 1980s with the introduction of its first Recycling Drop-off Centers. Mixed (or "single-stream") recycling arrived a few decades later, in 2011. Since then recycling has expanded and today 30,000 Knoxville households (just over 50%!) are signed up for this free and convenient service. Knoxville's recycling households are saving space in our landfill, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, creating jobs, and contributing to the regional economy.

Recycling CartThe mixed recycling collected in the curbside bins is delivered to WestRock, the materials recovery facility located near downtown Knoxville. Here, workers and then high-tech equipment remove contaminants and sort the recyclables into various materials. Paper, cardboard, metals, and plastics are then baled and sold to regional manufacturers in Knoxville, Alcoa, North Georgia, and Atlanta, who in turn use them to make new products.

Recycling remains viable in our community when everyone does their part to minimize contamination. Items that are not recyclable contaminate the purity and thus the value/salability of other materials, damage the recycling equipment, and can pose health and safety risks for workers. Although it seems counter-intuitive, it is always best to throw an item in the trash unless you are certain it is recyclable.

Remember this rule of thumb: when in doubt, throw it out! Double check the list of materials accepted in the curbside recycling carts and at the recycling drop-off centers, and use the "What Goes Where" look-up tool to see if a particular item is accepted before you "wish-cycle" it.

For more information, please do not hesitate to contact the Waste and Resources Management office. 


GLASS RECYCLING

As of January 2017, glass is no longer accepted in the City curbside recycling carts. However, GLASS IS STILL ACCEPTED AT THE CITY'S FIVE RECYCLING DROP-OFF CENTERS.

This change was due to a combination of factors. Unlike the separated glass collected at the Recycling Drop-Off Centers, glass from the curbside recycling carts must travel down the sorting line to separate it from other recyclable materials. During this process, it:
• breaks into tiny shards and contaminates other materials, such as the paper, plastic, and cardboard bales, which reduces their grade and value
• damages the expensive sorting equipment
• poses as safety hazard to workers on the line
• mixes with tiny bits of paper, caps, plastic, and miscellaneous trash, resulting in a glass-garbage product that is so contaminated that it is nearly worthless. 

The value of glass that has been through the sorting line is so low that no regional manufacturer will pay enough to cover the cost of processing and shipping it. Glass and other recyclables are commodities whose values fluctuate, but the value of post-consumer glass has been depressed for years and the outlook remains low. No matter how much we want to recycle a particular material, if no manufacturer will pay for it, it just isn't recyclable. Many communities across the country have lost their curbside glass recycling in the last decade due to these factors.

Glass collected at the City's recycling drop-off centers is less contaminated and requires much less processing; its higher value makes it possible to collect and truck it to the closest glass factory, which is Strategic Materials in Atlanta.

Remember: the five City Recycling Drop-off Centers are the only place in Knox County where you can currently recycle glass.  

 

CAN I RECYCLE THAT?


Do you have questions about what you can recycle in your bin? We have the answers! See the simple guide below to learn what can and can’t be recycled or check the list of materials accepted in the curbside recycling carts and at the recycling drop-off centers. If you still have questions, try the "What Goes Where" look-up tool to see if a particular item is accepted before you recycle it.

For more information about the City of Knoxville’s recycling program, contact the Waste and Resources Management Office at 215-2817.

View the Can I Recycle That Guide in PDF format

Recycling info