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 recycling collectors 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 recycling collectors for recycling.
Large appliances are also required to be recycled—this is usually done by your waste/recycling collector.
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). All Commercial, Industrial and Institutional generators must contract with a waste/recycling collector for recycling services.
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 helps operate 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 (10 Avion Drive - 14624) is open Wednesdays, 1 - 6:30 p.m. and Saturdays, 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. (closed holidays). 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.
There are additional privately-operated recycling drop-off areas available for residential use. The High Acres Landfill and Recycling Center is owned and operated by Waste Mangagement of NY and features a Residential Drop-off Area for waste and recyclables with reduced waste disposal rates for residents of Perinton and Macedon. Curbside recyclables are accepted free-of-charge from residents regardless of residency. Details, location and hours of operation can be found by clicking here. ALPCO Recycling operates a commercial and residential waste and recycling drop-off area that is open seven-days-per week. Click here for details, location and hours of operation.
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. The MCRC was temporarily closed in February, 2014 and reopened two months later to accept material in a single-stream manner (paper and containers can be mixed together for curbside collection).
The Recycling Facility is designed to efficiently sort recyclable materials. The design of the facility is simple. One large conveyor moves 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.
Tip Floor/Paper Sort
- Enter and Dump Paper & Containers: Materials are unloaded onto the floor. Front-load tractor operators then push piles of recyclables onto a below-grade level conveyor.
- Hand Sorting/Paper Magnet: The conveyor brings recyclables up to an elevated platform where people work on separating unacceptable material (plastic bags, ropes, cords, etc.) from the line. As the conveyor moves along, a screen system removes most of the large cardboard followed by a "paper magnet" to pick out newspaper, magazines, phone books, small cardboard, etc., from the line. As the containers fall below--and conveyed to the Container Line--the paper is sorted by hand to remove the remaining small cardboard and contaminants. 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 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.
- After being separated from the paper material, the remaining metal cans/pots/pans, glass bottles and jars and plastic materials are conveyed to the container 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) items 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. Glass falls out of the stream 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 line empties to a separate outdoor bin. Front load tractors periodically empty these bins into trucks that take the containers to the Mill Seat Landfill where it is reused for road base and cover material.
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||Mill Seat Landfill||road base, cover material|
|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.|