We understand that the seemingly simple task of recycling waste can be confusing. Is that straw, plastic fork, paper cup recyclable, Who knows? In a world filled with single use plastics the burden is put on the consumer to dispose of them properly. Until we can convert to more environmentally friendly materials like compostable or reusable containers, it is up to us to sort this stuff out. This article will quickly go over what can and cannot be recycled at the market and why recycling is important. 

Why its important to recycle the right way 

It may seem like a good idea to throw items that your unsure of in recycling but you may be doing more harm than good. The reason being, if a bin is contaminated with a high percentage of non-recyclable items, it will be rejected by the waste management company. Meaning all the material that could have been recycled will go to landfill, bad news blues. 

To properly recycle, approperate containers should be empty clean and dry, you may have noticed that our recycling bins have been retrofit with round holes. To reduce non-recyclable contamination we made the decision to restrict recycling to just bottles and cans. While paper could also be recycled, it simply does not work with the high volume of spills inside the bins. If we cannot recycle everything we feel that the best solution is to at least recycle all plastics disposed of at the market, they have the greatest impact on the environment and take the longest to breakdown. 

What can go in the bin

The best way to reduce plastic waste is of course, to not use it in the first place You can do that by bringing our own mug and bags. More on that can be found on our zero-waste blog post. If you do find yourself forgetting your reusable containers here is what you can recycle.

-Plastic Water and Pop Bottles 

-Aluminum Cans 

-Glass Beverage Containers

-Food Cans

-Food Jars 

-Coffee Cup Caps Only



What to avoid 

Paper Coffee Cups, Wax Paper Food Trays

As you can see paper coffee cups are a common contamination, we hope improved signage and education will change that. 

As you can see paper coffee cups are a common contamination, we hope improved signage and education will change that. 

Paper cups with a wax coating cannot be recycled. In fact all paper with a waxy coating including hot dog trays and milk cartons are destined for landfill. You can pop off the plastic lid to your coffee cup but please send the rest of it to the landfill bin. I know its sad but currently there is no way to reuse this type of paper in our municipality. 

Compostable Cups

These clear plastic cups find their way into our recycling bins quite often, probably because they look like plastic and even have a recycling symbol on the bottom, but they cannot be recycled only broken down at a commercial composting facility. Please look out for them and toss them in the compost when you can. 

 Plastic Straws and Plastic Silverware

These little buggers can be deceptive, everything about them says recyclable, a clean plastic that is only used once, you would think they would totally be recyclable. Unfortunately the low grade plastic is not recyclable, they are just cheap trash. If you want to be really cool you can carve out your own wooden spoon or buy one form the market and be the envy of all your eco-warrior friends. 


Just please don't do this.

Just please don't do this.

This one is just no. You cant recycle your greasy napkin with taco meat all over it, so please just throw it in the compost or eat it, taco meat should never be wasted. 


Unfortunately there is no Styrofoam recycling program in Kalamazoo. We have a strict no Styrofoam policy for our vendors at the KFM for that reason, not to mention it is not healthy to eat out of in the first place.  So please avoid the foam at all costs and if you bring it in toss it in the landfill or find a place where it can be recycled. 

Other items to avoid

-Dirty Aluminum Foil

-Dirty Plastic Food Containers

-Dirty Paper Plates, most of them have a plastic coating

If you have made it this far give yourself a little pat on the back, you are now ready to approach the waste bins with a new sense of expertise and you can even educate others about why we are only accepting bottles and cans for the time being. Now go out there and help conserve our natural resources and reduce our dependency on landfills.

You rock market shopper!