How to Properly Store Trash and Recyclables (Easily!)

Understanding recycling is an important part of proper waste management. Recycling is the process of converting waste materials into new products, and it is an effective way to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills. Different types of materials can be recycled, including paper, plastic, glass, and metal. By properly storing and preparing these materials for recycling, you can help reduce your environmental impact and conserve natural resources.

Key Takeaways:

  • Proper storage and preparation of trash and recyclables significantly reduces environmental impact and conserves natural resources.
  • Composting organic waste reduces methane production in landfills, creating a valuable garden fertilizer instead.
  • Reusing items like cloth napkins or refillable water bottles not only reduces waste but also saves money, promoting sustainable living.
  • Trash and recyclables should be stored in designated, sealed containers, sorted by type, with food containers rinsed before recycling to prevent contamination.

Table of Contents

How should trash and recyclables be stored?

Here is a table showing how different types of trash and recyclables can be stored for waste management and recycling:

Type of MaterialTrash StorageRecycling Storage
Paper/CardboardIn a dry, covered area away from moisture and fire hazardsIn a designated recycling bin, flattened if possible
PlasticsIn a dry, covered area away from heat and sunlightIn a designated recycling bin, sorted by type if possible
GlassIn a sturdy container that will not break or leakIn a designated recycling bin, sorted by color if possible
MetalIn a dry, covered area away from moisture and rustIn a designated recycling bin, sorted by type if possible
Organic WasteIn a compost bin or pile, away from animals and pestsIn a designated compost bin or pile, away from non-compostable materials
Hazardous WasteIn a sealed container labeled with the type of wasteIn a designated hazardous waste collection area or facility

(Source: EPAWaste Management)

Understanding Recycling

Recycling is the process of collecting and processing materials that would otherwise be thrown away as trash and turning them into new products. Recycling can benefit your community, the economy, and the environment. By recycling, you can help reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills and incinerators, conserve natural resources, and prevent pollution.

To participate in a recycling program, you need to understand what materials are recyclable and how to properly prepare them for collection. Most recycling programs accept common materials like paper, cardboard, plastic bottles, aluminum cans, and glass bottles and jars. However, guidelines may vary depending on your location, so it’s important to check with your local recycling program for specific guidelines.

The recycling process involves several steps, including collection, sorting, and processing. After collection, recyclables are transported to a recycling facility where they are sorted by material type and processed into new products. The recycled materials are then sold to manufacturers who use them to create new products.

To ensure that your recyclables are properly processed, it’s important to follow recycling guidelines. This includes rinsing out containers, removing caps and lids, and flattening cardboard boxes. Contaminated materials, such as food-soiled paper or plastic bags, can ruin an entire batch of recyclables, so it’s important to keep them out of the recycling bin.

In addition to curbside recycling programs, many communities have recycling centers where residents can drop off their recyclables. These facilities may accept additional materials that are not accepted in curbside programs, such as electronics, batteries, and household hazardous waste.

Types of Recyclable Materials


When it comes to recycling plastics, the most commonly seen and recyclable plastics are

  • PET: clear plastics, like water and soda bottles
  • HDPE: usually more opaque plastics, like laundry soap and milk jugs
  • Yogurt, butter, sour cream containers

However, there are recycling restrictions within those numbers, so make sure to check with your local recycling program to see what is accepted.

It’s important to note that plastic bags and plastic wrap should not be placed in your curbside recycling bin. Instead, they should be recycled at grocery stores or other participating retailers.


Metals are highly recyclable and can be found in many household items like aluminum cans, steel cans, and tin cans. Rinse out any food residue and flatten the cans to save space in your recycling bin. Other metal items like pots and pans, silverware, and small appliances can also be recycled, but check with your local recycling program for specific guidelines.

Paper and Cardboard

Paper makes up a large percentage of our waste, so it’s important to recycle it properly. Common paper items that can be recycled include newspapers, magazines, office paper, and cardboard boxes. Flatten cardboard boxes to save space in your recycling bin. However, it’s important to note that not all paper products can be recycled, such as paper towels, napkins, and tissues.

When it comes to cardboard boxes, make sure to remove any plastic packaging, such as bubble wrap or packing peanuts, before recycling. Additionally, pizza boxes with grease or food residue should not be recycled and should be thrown away in the trash.

Remember, proper recycling starts with proper storage and sorting.

Waste Management

To properly manage waste, it’s important to understand how to store trash and recyclables. Your local waste management guidelines may vary, but there are some general rules to follow.


Composting is a great way to dispose of organic waste, such as food scraps and yard trimmings. It’s also a way to create nutrient-rich soil for your garden. To compost, you need a compost bin or pile. Place your organic waste in the bin or pile and mix it with soil. Turn the pile regularly to help it decompose. Avoid adding meat, dairy, or oily foods to your compost, as they can attract pests and create odors.

Disposal of Non-Recyclables

Non-recyclable objects, such as electronics and hazardous waste, should be disposed of properly. Check with your local waste management to see if they have a program for hazardous waste disposal. You can also contact the manufacturer of your electronics to see if they have a recycling program. Light bulbs should be disposed of in the trash, as they contain small amounts of mercury.

When storing trash, it’s important to keep it contained and separate from recyclables. Use a trash can with a tight-fitting lid to prevent odors and keep animals out. Avoid storing trash in areas that are easily contaminated, such as near food or water sources.

Proper Storage and Preparation

Preventing Contamination

To properly store your trash and recyclables, you must ensure that they are not contaminated. Rinse food containers and beverage containers before placing them in the recycling bin. Do not mix different categories of waste. Keep toxic substances away from other recyclables.

Storing Recyclables

Use designated containers for recyclables and keep them in a designated area. Store clean recyclables and flatten boxes to save space. Use sealed containers to prevent odors and pests.

Preventing Odors and Pests

To prevent odors and pests, do not overfill garbage bags or cans. Tie garbage bags securely and place them in a designated area. Do not leave full garbage bags outside for extended periods of time. Clean garbage cans regularly.

Proper storage and preparation of trash and recyclables is essential for the environment. By keeping your waste organized and separated, you can reduce contamination and increase the amount of material that can be recycled.

Environmental Impact

Storing your trash and recyclables properly can have a significant impact on the environment. By reducing waste and reusing materials, you can help conserve resources and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

When organic waste, such as food scraps and yard waste, is sent to landfills, it decomposes and produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas. By composting these materials instead, you can reduce the amount of methane produced and create a valuable fertilizer for your garden.

Recycling also has a positive environmental impact. By recycling materials such as paper, glass, and plastic, you can reduce the need for new raw materials to be extracted and processed, which saves energy and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

To further reduce waste, consider reusing items instead of throwing them away. For example, you can use cloth napkins instead of paper ones, or refillable water bottles instead of disposable ones. This not only reduces waste but also saves you money in the long run.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best practices for storing trash and recyclables in an area only accessible to employees?

You should store trash and recyclables in a designated area that is only accessible to employees. Make sure the area is well-ventilated and away from food preparation and storage areas. Keep the area clean and organized, and use appropriate containers for each type of waste.

How can trash and recyclables be stored double bagged and stacked properly?

Double bagging is a good way to prevent leaks and odors from escaping. When stacking bags of trash or recyclables, make sure to stack them neatly and evenly to prevent tipping. Always follow local regulations for handling and storing waste.

What are the guidelines for storing trash and recyclables in a food handling area?

Trash and recyclables should never be stored in a food handling area. If there is no other option, they should be stored in a separate, enclosed area with a self-closing door. Make sure to follow all relevant health and safety regulations.

What are some effective ways to store trash and recyclables to limit pest access?

To limit pest access, make sure to store trash and recyclables in sealed containers with tight-fitting lids. Do not leave bags of trash or recyclables outside overnight. Keep the storage area clean and free of debris, and remove any spilled waste immediately.

How should I sort my trash for recycling?

Different materials should be sorted into separate containers for recycling. Common recyclable materials include paper, cardboard, plastics, glass, and metal. Make sure to follow local guidelines for recycling, and do not include non-recyclable materials in recycling containers.


Hello! I'm Nikita, the creator of Abodenation, a blog dedicated to home improvement, troubleshooting, advice, and decor. With years of hands-on experience and a keen eye for detail, I love sharing my passion for creating functional, beautiful, and comfortable living spaces with others. Join me on my journey to transform houses into homes, one project at a time.

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