Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Recycling Laws and Regulations
The law states, in general, that residents must recycle the following food, drink and household product containers: steel, aluminum, glass bottles, jugs and jars, plastics (#s 1 and 2). However, the Monroe County Recycling Center (MCRC) also accepts paper containers (gable-top cartons/drink boxes), empty steel aerosol cans (no pesticides or spray paint), plastics (#s 3-7), defaced license plates and pots/pans/foilware from haulers for recycling/recovery. All appropriate containers must be rinsed and caps/lids attached prior to being placed in the bin (labels OK). Only the items listed above are accepted for recycling.
According to law, residents must also recycle newspapers, magazines and corrugated cardboard. However, additional paper materials may be recycled. The MCRC accepts all clean paper from haulers for recycling.
Large appliances are also required to be recycled—this is usually done by your garbage hauler.
Apartment landlords (centrally-served) must provide their tenants with recycling educational material and centrally-located recycling containers.
Businesses, Institutions (Schools/Colleges) and Industries must recycle corrugated cardboard and high-grade (office) paper--all clean paper, however, may voluntarily be recycled. Businesses, institutions and industries that have cafeteria-type services and all restaurants must recycle the above required containers used in food preparation activities. Containers used by students/staff (milk cartons, soda bottles, soup cans, etc.) are not required to be separated for recycling. All appropriate containers that are separated for recycling must be rinsed and caps/lids attached prior to recycling (labels left on).
Download the Monroe County Recycling Laws (113k PDF).
Download the Monroe County Recycling Regulations (114k PDF).
Learn More About the DES Recycling Center
Recycling Drop-Off Area
All residents and businesses in Monroe County are required to recycle. The county has one recycling drop-off location for residents without curbside recyclable pick-up (businesses must set up a recycling program through their waste hauler). The Monroe County ecopark facility is open 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday. Click here for more information about the ecopark. Only those items that are accepted in the curbside recycling program can be dropped off in the designated recycling dumpsters. For a list of curbside recyclable items that county residents may bring to the ecopark drop-off area see the Residential Recycling section. No garbage will be accepted. This facility accepts household items ONLY (no businesses, not-for-profits, churches, home offices, charities, etc.).
Some towns/villages operate their own recycling drop-off centers. Contact your municipality’s public works/highway department to see if they offer this service.
Monroe County ecopark Facility
10 Avion Drive
Rochester, New York 14624
Take Exit #17 (Scottsville Road - NY 383). Go south for 2 miles and turn right on Paul Road (Rt. 252A). Stay on Paul Road for 1.3 miles, turn left into the facility (Avion Drive) and follow the signs.
From Jefferson Road at Scottsville Road:
Turn north on Scottsville Road and continue for 1.2 miles. Turn left on Paul Road (Rt. 252A) and continue for 1.3 miles, turn left into the facility (Avion Drive) and follow the signs.
The Western New York Materials Exchange (MAT-EX)
Western New York Materials Exchange (MAT-EX) is an opportunity for businesses to exchange unwanted/unusable products that would otherwise end up in a landfill. The MAT-EX website also allows businesses to locate free/inexpensive materials that can be used in daily business operations. Logon to MAT-EX and see what is available for your business and add materials to the MAT-EX listing.
MAT-EX involves businesses in twenty-one counties of Western/Central New York (Genesee, Livingston, Wyoming, Erie, Allegany, Steuben, Chautauqua, Monroe, Seneca, Tompkins, Orleans, Cattaraugus, Broome, Cayuga, and Tioga), Niagara Consortium, and the Western Finger Lakes and Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Management Authorities.
Learn more at the Western New York Materials Exchange website.
The Monroe County Recycling Center (MCRC) is located on Lee Road and was opened in 1992 to accept curbside residential recyclables. Materials delivered to the facility are sorted, processed and baled for transport to end market users. The operation of this facility has been by private contractor solicited through a request for proposals issued by the county every ten years. While the County does typically receive some revenue per ton for the materials (a set amount determined within the contract), the marketing of the materials (and thus the associated risk/reward) is the responsibility of the contracted operator.
The Recycling Center currently receives about 175 tons of curbside recyclable material per day (80 percent paper). Until January 1, 2013, Cascades Recovery, U.S., Inc. operated the facility under a ten-year agreement that netted the county about $250,000 per year. Cascades was responsible for all operating and revenue risks and paid the City of Rochester and other area waste haulers $8-12 per ton for paper (depending on the market). The enhanced paper recycling program is not only a financial incentive to the haulers, but also an operational one, as it allows garbage trucks to remain on their routes longer, fill less quickly and avoid landfill tipping fees. On January 1, 2013, Waste Management, Inc. began operating the Recycling Center under a ten-year contract and program enhancements are planned for the future.
The Recycling Facility is designed to efficiently sort recyclable materials. The design of the facility is simple. Two large conveyors (one for paper and one for containers) move materials to various platforms where mechanical or hand sorting directs each type of recyclable material to a baler (paper, plastic, aluminum, steel) or to an outside storage bunker (glass).
Recycling trucks enter at Lee Road and stop on large scales so the load of recyclables can be weighed.
- Enter and Dump Paper: Paper materials are unloaded onto the floor. Front-load tractor operators then push piles of paper onto a below-grade level conveyor.
- Hand Sorting: The conveyor brings paper up to an elevated platform where up to six people work on separating everything but newsprint from the line. As the conveyor moves along, employees pick out magazines, phone books, cardboard, etc., from the line by hand and deposit them into their respective bins. Piles of sorted paper products accumulate on the ground floor below.
- Newsprint Goes to the Baler: At the end of the paper conveyor, clean newsprint falls into a large holding bin. A conveyor then dumps newsprint onto a long conveyor that leads to the baler. Approximately 85 percent of the paper processed is newsprint.
Sorting Piles: When piles of magazines, phone books, containers, etc., accumulate under the platform in the sorting bins, a bucket loader will push them onto the conveyor that goes to the baler.
- Unloading Cans, Glass and Plastic: After unloading paper, the truck moves to the container conveyor line that will separate these recyclables.
- Magnetic Separation: The mixed recyclables travel up the conveyor and go through a magnetic separator that pulls the steel (tin) cans from the rest of the recyclable containers and drops them to a bin below.
- Blow Off and Screen Smaller Materials: The container line moves through an air “knife” to blow off plastic, sending it to its own separation line, other containers are hand-sorted. Small mixed-color broken glass falls through a screen, is crushed in a grinder, and goes to a separate outdoor bin.
- The Glass Line: After the other containers are removed, all that remains on the line are larger broken, or unbroken, glass bottles. The main line is clear glass, and as it moves by, sorters hand-separate out the brown and green glass and move it to separate conveyers. Each of these lines empties to a separate outdoor bin. Front load tractors periodically empty these bins into trucks that take the containers to the glass plant.
Fluffer and Baler
Depending on the type of material to be compressed, it is fluffed as necessary and then banded with wire to produce a 3' x 4' x 5' bale. Bales are moved by forklift to storage or tractor-trailers for shipping.
Where do the recyclables go and what are they used for?
The recyclables are marketed to various companies and ultimately sold to the company willing to pay the highest price. Bales of recyclables are loaded on tractor-trailers and trucked to companies that process them into new products. The market for recyclables is in a constant state of fluctuation and the price per ton of recyclables can change daily.
Following are examples of where some recyclables go and what they are used for:
|Newspaper||Bowater Paper Mill (Canada)||newsprint, insulation, lawn mulch|
|Magazines||De-Inking mills (Canada)||newsprint|
|Corrugated Cardboard||Solvay Paperboard (Syracuse)||cardboard boxes, linerboard|
|Brown Paper Bags||Paper Mills||brown bags, corrugated cardboard|
|Office Paper||Paper Mills||tissue, writing paper|
|Metal/Aerosol Cans||Steel Mills (NY and PA)||steel, tin|
|Aluminum Cans||Aluminum Mills (WV and IN)||aluminum cans|
|Glass Containers||Nexcycle Resources (Syracuse)||new bottles, jars|
|PET #1||Plastic Facilities (NY, NJ, PA)||polyester fibers for carpet, clothes|
|HDPE #2||Plastic Facilities (PA)||plastic lumber|
|Gable-Top Cartons||Paper Mills (NY, PA, GA, WI)||writing and tissue paper|
|Plastics (#s 3-7)||Plastic Facilities/WTE (Canada)||buckets, trash cans, etc.|