The Ultimate Guide to Recycling in Orange County

When it comes to taking better care of the planet we call home, we all know how important it is to recycle. However, knowing exactly how to recycle here in Orange County can be tricky, especially if you’re not entirely sure what the guidelines are for each and every type of item. 

For instance, you probably already know to separate your glasses and your plastics, but what about those other random items, such as that old television that’s been gathering dust or your collection of vintage office equipment?

If you’re looking to step up your recycling game and are eager to help do your part to keep Orange County clean, I’m here to break down all the details as to how to recycle everything here in the Orange County, California region!

Organic Waste/Green Bin

As of January 1st 2022, California’s Senate Bill 1383 now requires local residents to skip the garbage can when throwing out expired fruits and veggies. Instead, that’s going to go into your organic waste bin, along with your yard trimmings and other similar scraps.

This is an effort to help prevent fertilizer and other agricultural waste making their way into our landfills. As it stands, a staggering 108 billion pounds of food waste is generated each year, leading to an excess amount of waste across the country.

Guidelines

Items that can be thrown into your organic bin include fruit and veggie scraps, coffee grounds, and juice pulps. Some cities here in Orange County allow meat and dairy waste, so be sure to check with your local ordinances before tossing anything into the bin, though.

It’s not just food scraps and yard trimmings that can go into your organic waste bin, though. That greasy pizza box can also be thrown into your green bin, as well as food scraps (such as old bread and last week’s leftovers) and tea bags.

That said, you will want to reach out to your local waste haulers to make sure you’re following local guidelines. As each city does have different requirements, you don’t want to be hit with a fine or a penalty for throwing the wrong stuff into your green bin.

You can access the list of guidelines provided by Orange County here. 

Blue Bin

This is the bin that most of you are already familiar with when it comes to recycling. When it comes to taking care of things like glass, plastic, and paper, you likely know that these items go into your blue recycling bin.

But what else goes into the blue bin? While you may think it’s totally fine to throw in anything with those little triangles and numbers on it into your blue bin, there are a few things you need to know before you start sorting your recyclables.

Guidelines

In addition to the usual traditional recyclable stuff – such as cans, bottles, and plastics – there are a few other guidelines to keep in mind. There’s no need to bag it. In fact, the municipality prefers that you don’t bag your recyclables.

Make sure anything that goes into your recycling is free from dirt, grime, food waste, and other contaminants. Bottles and cans don’t need to be flattened or crushed to be recycled.

But more importantly, avoid specific hazardous materials. Not all recyclables can go into your blue bin and may need to be recycled at the Transfer Station instead.

Paper Products: Items such as white and colored paper, newspapers, cardboard, old junk mail, newspapers and magazines, cereal and other food boxes, egg cartons, paper bags, telephone books, and shoe boxes, can be put into the blue bin for recycling. 

Glass Products: Colored glass bottles (remove lids first), and glass jars, can also go into your blue bin. 

Plastic Products: Plastic milk jugs, soap and detergent containers (rinsed first), other bottles and containers (labeled as #1-7) can go into the blue bin. 

Metal Products: You can put aluminum cans, steel and tin cans, food cans (rinsed out with no food residue), and aerosol cans (empty), into the blue bin. 

You can access the list of guidelines provided by Orange County here. 

Other Items

You already know what goes into your blue and green bin, but what about everything else?

While you may think that if it’s not clearly organic or glass or plastic, it must be trash. However, before you start throwing things haphazardly into your recycling bin, here are a few things to keep in mind about those random odds and ends laying around your home.

Textiles

You might have old clothes, shoes, towels, and other similar items that need recycling, but are not sure if they are qualified for curbside pickup. If so, you are in luck. The Orange County Transfer Stations will take these items regardless of their conditions at no extra charge. Do not pack them in plastic wraps or carry bags. 

Scrap metal

Scrap metal or excess building materials from your last home project can be recycled at the OC Transfer Stations. These must not go into any of the recycling bins for curbside pick as the separation equipment at recycling facilities are not built to handle them. 

Electronics

All electronic items excluding televisions, such as laptops, printers, scanners, computer monitors, DVD players, and digital music players, can be recycled at OC Transfer Stations for free. Recycling televisions, however, will cost you $20 per item, regardless of their size or type. 

Motor Oil

You can recycle your used oil at one of the CalRecycle Certified Used Oil Collection Centers in Orange County. Be sure to carry them in a clean container that is tightly lidded. You can also bring your used oil filters for recycling at one of these facilities. 

Fortunately, there is no extra charge or need for I.D. or paperwork when recycling used oil. You can use this tool to locate the nearest oil recycling program in your city. 

Additional Resources

If you still have any doubts relating to recycling and figuring out which items go into the blue or green bin, then you are in luck. Orange County offers an ingenious look up tool that helps you find recycling guidelines for each item individually. 

For recycling commercial and residential furniture, you might want to get in touch with Social Removals. They will haul away and recycle items like cubicles, desks, tables, chairs, and other furniture related items. You can also find furniture for your home at their ReStore at very low costs. 

Keep Orange County Beautiful

There’s no place quite like Orange County, and we’re very lucky to call this beautiful little corner of the world our home. And by each of us doing our part to help keep it clean and our landfills from overflowing, you can be confident that it’ll remain this way for years to come!

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