What can I recycle from my home?

Materials commonly recycled by municipal recycling programs. Call your local solid waste facility, recycling center, or municipal office to find out where you can recycle the following materials:

  • Newspapers, magazines, catalogues, and phone books (find out how to reduce your junk mail at www.dmachoice.org).  
  • Mixed paper - Most types of clean paper, envelopes, cereal boxes, junk mail, milk cartons.
  • Glass jars and bottles
  • Tin and aluminum cans
  • Plastics - #1-7, containers, lids, plastic packaging.
  • Rigid plastics - 5 gallon buckets, plastic lawn chairs, milk & soda crates, landscape trays, coolers, toys and playhouses, pet carriers, CD & DVD cases, VHS tapes, garbage cans (empty), and more.
  • Corrugated cardboard and brown paper bags
  • Electronics, fluorescent light bulbs, mercury thermostats, mercury thermometers and other mercury devices.  (Best Buy & Staples offer free recycling for many electronics; check their web sites for details.)

There are hundreds of locations in Maine that collect rechargeable batteries for recycling.  U.S. battery manufacturers are planning to offer similar free collections for single-use (alkaline) batteries beginning sometime in 2013.

When you replace your car battery, return the old battery to the store where you bought your new battery to have $10 refunded to you.

Bottles and cans
All beverage containers (except milk products and fresh apple cider) purchased in Maine can be returned to grocery stores and redemption centers. You will be rewarded with 5 cents for each smaller container and 15 cents for larger containers (e.g., wine & liquor bottles).

Your local solid waste facility or recycling center may also take returnable bottles and cans and use the proceeds to support local projects and needs.

Carpet and carpet padding
There are many different kinds of carpet, and nearly all are recyclable. Ask your retailer or contractor if they will take your old carpet for recycling.  They may charge a fee for this service as carpet is expensive to transport and there are no carpet recycling facilities in Maine.

Gypsum drywall
Check with your local transfer station; many accept it for recycling.  Commercial Paving & Recycling in Scarborough also accepts drywall for processing into a construction fill.  Be sure it is free of contaminants like lead paint or asbestos.

Inkjet cartridges
Some manufacturers include a free mailer with each new inkjet cartridge so you can send your used cartridges in for recycling.  You can also bring them to office supply stores to recycle; some stores will give you credit toward the purchase of new cartridges.

Medical sharps
Used medical sharps are the single leading cause of workplace injuries for workers managing solid waste.  To help avoid such injuries, household consumers should put their used sharps into sealed rigid, leak and puncture proof containers, and take them to a local collection site.  Contact your local hospital to find out if they accept sharps from their patients.

You can also purchase a postage-paid container to collect your used sharps and mail full containers back to the service provider for proper disposal.

Contact your local police department, sheriff’s office, or hospital to find out where to bring your unused medications for proper disposal (medications can’t be recycled).  Do not flush your unused medications down the toilet or throw them in the trash because this causes pollution and poses health hazards to people and animals.  Be sure to keep the medications in their original containers so that they can be easily identified for proper handling and disposal by the collection site, but cross out your name and address to protect your privacy.

Motor oil and antifreeze
Many local garages will take your used motor oil at no charge.  VIP, Haley’s, and others also accept antifreeze fluid to process into new product; they may charge a small fee for this service.

Check with your local solid waste facility to see if they offer a paint exchange or collect paint for recycling.

Plastic bags and plastic film
Hannaford, Shaws and Wal-Mart all have collection kiosks for plastic bags and plastic film. Other stores may also offer this service.

Propane tanks
If you have a propane cylinder that can't be refilled, call your local propane dealers to see if they offer a tank recycling service. Look in the Yellow Pages under "Gas Propane" for propane dealers near you. If your local propane dealer won't take them, check with your town office or solid waste facility to find out what arrangements they have for their residents to get rid of old tanks. Towns are working with propane dealers, cylinder recyclers, and scrap metal dealers to get the lowest price possible for getting tanks recycled.

Smoke detectors
Federal law requires manufacturers to take back smoke detectors that contain a radioactive source.  This N.H. Department of Environmental Services website includes a listing of brands and information for returning smoke detectors to the manufacturers.

Styrofoam® peanuts
Check with your local recycling center to see if they collect styrofoam peanuts or know of local businesses that can use your packing peanuts.  There is also an on-line listing that you can use to find businesses that will re-use your styrofoam peanuts, or that you can use to let others know you want their packing peanuts – go to www.loosefillpackaging.com.

Most solid waste facilities accept tires for recycling; many charge a small fee for this service.  Some tire retailers also will take tires for recycling for a fee.