a group of water bottles sitting next to each other

As busy as life is, we often appreciate simplicity. While the instructions for programming a TV may not be straightforward, Monroe County’s single-stream recycling process is designed to be easy to follow. 

The common question is, “Does Monroe County recycle?” The answer is a resounding “yes.”

Having worked at the Cudjoe transfer station for 18 months, I’ve seen how every waste type is handled: metals, electronics, tires, hazardous waste, yard waste, household trash and recycling. Each of these materials is collected and stored separately to prevent contamination. 

Monroe County’s household recyclables are transported in a dedicated semi-trailer to Reuter’s Recycling Facility in Pembroke Pines. Recycling not only helps reduce landfill waste but also conserves resources and reduces pollution, making it a crucial part of sustainable waste management. 

The second frequently asked question is, “Can I recycle my pizza  boxes?” The answer is not as straightforward. For instance, the greasy bottom of a pizza box has residual oils that cannot be recycled. However, if you remove the top half of the box and it’s grease-free, you could recycle it. 

Contamination is a significant issue, accounting for about 38% of the materials received in the recycling facility. When materials are contaminated, they are sent to the landfill. This happens when the wrong materials are placed in the recycling tote or when the materials have residual foods or are in a plastic bag. If contamination is discovered before curbside collection, the  contaminated materials must be emptied into a trash truck. If not, it could compromise all the recycling in that truck. Let’s focus on what we can recycle in Monroe County.  

These items CAN be placed in your recycling tote: 

  • Rinsed metal and aluminum cans (Labels are fine) 
  • Clean aluminum foil 
  • Clean aluminum foil containers 
  • Metal jar lids 
  • Rinsed glass bottles and jars (Labels are acceptable)
  • Paper products 
  • Newspapers and inserts 
  • Cardboard boxes (flatten please) 
  • Paperboard boxes (cereal/crackers/cookie boxes) 
  • Junk mail (including the cellophane window) 
  • Phone books/paperback books/magazines
  • Rinsed foil-lined milk, juice and soup boxes 
  • Rinsed plastic bottles (water, detergent, shampoo, prescription bottles) 
  • Rinsed plastic containers (produce, yogurt, sour cream) 

These items CANNOT be recycled: 

  • Plastic bags or trash bags (return to grocery store) 
  • Styrofoam (return to Publix) 
  • Yard waste 
  • Ceramics or blue glass 
  • Textiles 
  • Garbage 
  • Food waste 
  • Batteries 
  • Electronics 
  • Hazardous waste: paints, oils, solvents, light bulbs, chemicals 

Yard waste in Monroe County is not wasted. It’s composted. It must be placed in a can, separate from trash, and not in a plastic bag. For extra-large loads, call your waste hauler to schedule a bulk pick-up. The yard waste is then processed and composted, a natural process turning organic waste into a valuable soil amendment. The compost is then returned to the community, fostering sustainable gardening and landscaping practices. The compost give-back is the first Saturday of each month from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., while supplies last at each Monroe County transfer station.  

Are you getting a new appliance or piece of furniture? Contact your waste  hauler for residential bulk waste pickup information. The haulers’ contact  information is listed. Once a pickup is scheduled, place the bulk waste neatly at the curbside. Do not place it under power lines or obstruct traffic.  

BOX OUT

For questions about your curbside service or information about a bulk pick, please call your waste hauler. 

Key West: Waste Management —305-296-8297 

Stock Island to South End of 7 Mile Bridge: Waste Management —305-296-8297 

North End of 7 Mile Bridge to MM 72: Marathon Garbage Service — 305-743-5165 

Islamorada: Island Disposal — 305-393-3300 

MM 91 to the county line: Key Sanitary Service — 305-451-2025 Ocean Reef Club Solid Waste: 305-367-5992

Melody Tuschel
Melody Tuschel is the Monroe County recycling coordinator and outreach liaison.