Recycle Right in Kitsap County

Last updated ​March 5, 2020

Recycling Program

In Kitsap County, we collect materials that have the best chance of being made into new products. Our Kitsap Recycle Guide (PDF) has always emphasized quality over quantity, and it has not changed since 2007.

We are always checking to make sure our list of recyclables matches the current recycling markets and sorting technologies.

Recycling relies on you to put the right things in the recycling bin. Follow the recycling tips below to make sure recyclables coming from Kitsap County are made into new products and stay out of the landfill.

Yes! Accepted in Recycling

(if empty, clean, and dry)

  • ​Aluminum cans

  • Steel (tin) cans

  • Cardboard

  • Paper (office paper, paper bags, newspaper, magazines, mail, catalogs, phone books, food boxes)

  • Some Plastics (only recycle plastic bottles, jugs, jars, or dairy tubs)

  • Glass bottles and jars

  • Cartons (milk, juice)

​No! Do Not Recycle

Recycling Tips

Empty, clean, and dry - it matters

It's important to only put empty, clean, and dry recyclables in the recycling bin. Dirty or wet materials are likely removed from the recycling stream and end up in the landfill. They can also contaminate other clean recyclables in your bin. We know you value keeping recyclable materials out of the landfill, and recycling right makes sure your recycling effort doesn't go to waste. 

Ignore the symbol. Sort plastics by shape instead.

In Kitsap, only recycle plastics shaped like a bottle, jug, jar, or dairy tub.

The "recycling symbol" on the bottom of many plastics is a resin identification code and tells you what type of plastic resin was used in manufacturing, but it doesn't mean it's recyclable.

Sort plastics by shape, because shape determines how a container travels through the sorting facility. The plastic containers we collect hold their shape and will be sorted properly. They are also made from plastic resins in high demand by re-manufacturers.

Dispose of non-recyclable plastics as trash at Recycling and Garbage Drop-Off Facilities or in your curbside container. 

When in doubt, find out or throw it out

Items that don't belong in the recycle bin are contaminants. Top contaminants in Kitsap are bagged recyclables, dirty recyclables, non-accepted plastics, plastic bags and film, batteries, tanglers (hoses and wires), and trash.

Contamination makes it harder to sell recyclables and increases the cost of recycling. Buyers of recyclables offer a lower price or reject contaminated recyclables. When contamination is very bad, the materials may be landfilled instead of sorted.

If you're not sure an item can be recycled, check the Kitsap County Recycle Guide (PDF). The items on the guide are the only items that can go in your recycle bin. If you're still not sure, put it in the trash.

What do recyclables become?

Plastic containers shaped like bottles, jugs, jars, or dairy tubs

According to Waste Management, operator of the Materials Recovery Facility used by Kitsap County, "Plastics from the Pacific Northwest are primarily sold to a recycler in Canada."

This Canadian facility is a "secondary sorting facility," where plastics are sorted again to increase the quality of the materials so they're easier to sell back to re-manufacturers around the world.

Recycled plastics become a variety of plastic goods. However, when the price of oil is low, manufacturers are less likely to use recycled plastics and more likely to use virgin plastics.


​According to Waste Management, operator of the Materials Recovery Facility used by Kitsap County, "Mixed paper has some local (WA state) markets and some of it goes to other parts of Asia like India, Malaysia, and other countries in that region."

Across the globe, market challenges have made it difficult to sell recycled paper for a good price. Learn about these challenges in this Oct. 22, 2019 Recycling Today article by Megan Smalley.

​Metal cans

Metal is 100% recyclable and can be recycled an infinite number of times (unlike paper, which has less and less fiber the more times it is recycled).

Steel (tin) cans are often recycled at Nucor Steel in Seattle. They melt and manufacture steel scrap into a variety of steel products.

Aluminum cans are often sent to aluminum smelters in the southeastern US. It takes only a few month for a can from your recycle bin to make its way back to the shelves as a new can!

​Corrugated cardboard

It depends on the buyer, but a majority of cardboard is recycled at paper mills in the US. If the cardboard is purchased by Port Townsend Paper Company, for example, it may become the raw materials used to construct new cardboard boxes or pulp used to make new paper.

Learn about the rise in cardboard use and manufacturing in this March 22, 2019 New York Times article by Michael Corkery.

​Glass bottles and jars

It depends on the buyer. Glass is crushed in the recycling sorting process to minimize the abrasive impacts on the sorting machines.

Crushed glass is often sold to manufactures of composite materials or is sometimes used as an "alternative daily cover," a material placed on the surface of an active landfill cell to control pests, fires, odors, and blowing litter.

​Cartons or food boxes from refrigerated section

Cartons, which are made of paper embedded with plastic, are sorted into the paper pile at the Materials Recovery Facility. They have the same journey as paper.

Put shelf-stable cartons in the trash. They are made of many materials and are too difficult to recycle with current technology.

Where do Kitsap's recyclables go?

After you sort your recyclables and set them at the curb or bring them to a drop-off recycling facility, they are hauled to Olympic View Transfer Station where they are combined with recyclables from across Kitsap County. Next, they are hauled to JMK Fibers, a Materials Recovery Facility in Tacoma. The facility's machines and workers sort the recyclables into similar materials, bale them together, and then sell the bales to manufacturers.

Domestic and international buyers bid on the bales on an open market. Buyers inspect each bale and pay a higher price for clean materials without contamination.

When recycling markets are good, you receive a recycling rebate on your garbage and recycling bill. If sellers cannot sell a bale of recycling, they may have to pay the processor to take the bale. Or they may re-sort the bale to remove contaminants. It is much easier to sell recyclables if the quality is good from the start. Quality begins in your home.

Global recycling changes

The recycling industry has gone through big changes recently. When China stopped accepting some recyclables in late 2017, there was a need to find new places to send recyclable materials.

For Kitsap, this meant finding new markets for mixed paper (magazines, office paper, and newspaper) and mixed plastics. New domestic and international markets for mixed paper and plastics are still emerging.