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What can't be recycled?

Calgary has a Blue Cart recycling program that allows people to recycle a lot of things.

Sometimes though, our recycling sorting facility gets items it isn't designed to handle, like a rubber hose, a coat hanger, or propane tanks. These materials can seriously injure a worker, get stuck in equipment, shut down the facility or spoil the quality of good recyclables.

If you don't know where to put an item, see our online recycling search tool to find out what goes where. Learn more about preparing your recyclables or view our Recycle Smart video.

Items that cannot go in the recycling depot or blue cart

No hazardous materials

Hazardous Materials Can't Be Recycled
  • Aerosol cans
  • Car batteries
  • Cleaning products
  • Gardening products
  • Helium tanks
  • Lighters
  • Oil
  • Paint cans
  • Products for your vehicle
  • Propane tanks or canisters
  • Smoke detectors
  • Thermometers
  • Other products with a hazardous symbol

Take these items or empty containers to a year-round household hazardous waste drop-off location.

Please note: If a container has both a hazardous materials symbol and a recycling symbol bring it to a household hazardous waste drop-off.

No scrap metal

Scrap metal
  • Aluminum siding
  • Car parts
  • Electrical wire
  • Pots and pans
  • Shelving racks
  • Wire coat hangers

Scrap metal is not accepted in the Blue Cart program or at community recycling depots. To recycle your scrap metal, check out What Goes Where to find out where to take it.

No foam cups, food containers or packaging

Foam cups food or packaging containers

Polystyrene foam packing materials, cups, food containers and trays, even if it has a recycling symbol #6, must be placed in the garbage.

No construction materials

Construction materials
  • Bricks
  • Concrete
  • Drywall
  • Nails
  • Tile
  • Wood

These items must be taken to a City landfill. Alternatively, certain materials may be brought to the Spyhill Landfill for waste diversion.

No electronics

  • Computer monitors
  • CPUs
  • Printers
  • TVs

The City has partnered with industry to provide several drop-off locations for the recycling of old and unusable electronics, free of charge.

No garbage or blue recycling bags

Garbage or blue recycling bags

Recyclables need to be loose so they can be sorted by the machines at the recycling facility. Bags are not opened during the sorting process. The only exception is to use clear bags for shredded paper and bundle your plastic bags together in one plastic bag.

To understand how the recycling facility in Calgary works, watch our video.

No houseware items

Houseware items
  • Ceramics
  • Dishes
  • Drinking glasses
  • Garden hoses
  • Light bulbs
  • Mirrors
  • Small appliances
  • Utensils

If these items can be donated, check out What Goes Where to find out where to take them. If they cannot be donated, they should be placed in the garbage.

No toys, sporting goods, shoes or clothing

Toys-Sporting Goods-Shoes-Apparel

If these items can be donated, check out What Goes Where to find out where to take them. If they cannot be donated, they should be placed in the garbage.

No multi-material packaging

Multi-material packaging

Place these items in your garbage.

  • Deodorant sticks
  • Toothpaste tubes
  • Foil from yogurt containers
  • Frozen juice containers
  • Items made from more than one type of material, for example paper and plastic.
  • Single-serve coffee packages.

Check out What Goes Where for other disposal options for these packages.

No food or yard waste

Food or yard waste

Food, grass clippings, leaves and branches can be composted in your backyard composter.

Grass clippings can also be left on the lawn.

During the fall, leaves and pumpkins can be taken to a temporary Leaf & Pumpkin drop-off location for composting.

These items can also be placed in the garbage.

No miscellaneous plastics, even if they have a recycling symbol.

Miscellaneous plastics with recycling symbol
  • Forks and spoons
  • Laundry baskets
  • Pens
  • Plastic knives
  • Straws

These items should be placed in the garbage.

No dirty items

Recycable items must be cleaned

Materials need to be free of food, liquids and other residue.

Tip: After you've finished washing the dishes in the sink, rinse out your recyclables with the same water.