Curbside Recycling

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“When in doubt, set it out!” Thanksgiving and Christmas are the only planned days of the year when curbside trash and recycling are not picked up as scheduled. If the holiday falls on or prior to your scheduled collection day during the week, collection is delayed by one day and Sanitation Workers work through Saturday to catch up. The following Monday, service resumes as usual.

Cart Smart


Households located within the City limits with four or fewer units on a parcel are eligible for the City's free curbside recycling program. Each enrolled household receives one 95-gallon recycling cart that is emptied every other week. Sign up online or call 311 to participate.


The mixed recycling collected in the curbside bins is delivered to WestRock, the materials recovery facility located near downtown Knoxville. Here, workers and then high-tech equipment remove contaminants and sort the recyclables into various materials. Paper, cardboard, metals, and plastics are then baled and sold to manufacturers in Knoxville and in the surrounding Southeast region who in turn use them to make new products. Watch this video to see what happens to Knoxville's recyclables at WestRock.

Recycling remains viable in our community when everyone does their part to minimize detrimental contamination. Some items that are not recyclable can contaminate the purity and thus the value and salability of other materials, can damage the recycling equipment, and can pose health and safety risks for workers. Although it seems counter-intuitive, it is always best to throw an item in the trash unless you are certain it is recyclable.


PLASTICS: #1 & #2 containers including cups, bottles, milk/juice/detergent jugs, & attached caps (NO plastic bags). *For information about plastics #3-7, please visit the "Is Everything In My Bin Really Recycled?" section.

METALS: aluminum cans, steel cans, tin cans, & lids

including milk, juice, or ice cream cartons, paper plates, cups, or bowls, coffee cups, all junk mail, magazines, office/school/notepad papers, soft-covered books, paperboard such as toilet paper/paper towel tubes, cereal boxes, tissue boxes, etc., paper bags, envelopes, paper folders, and shredded paper (only when fully secured in paper bags or envelopes). Not necessary to remove labels, staples, tape, or the plastic windows from envelopes.

NEWSPAPER: including inserts

CARDBOARD: flattened


• Glass. Glass can only be recycled at the five City Recycling Drop-off Centers

Plastic bags and other plastic films. We recommend using reusable bags.

Lead Acid, lithium, and rechargeable (no alkaline) batteries may be brought to the Solid Waste Management Facility (SWMF) for recycling - it's free!.


Aluminum foil/foil pans or pie plates

Bags/wrappers with silver inner linings
such as chips, candy, etc.

Aerosol cans/paint cans

Pet food bags

Cords, garden hoses, holiday lights,
and other "tanglers"

Light bulbs 
(fluorescent tubes & compact fluorescent light bulbs can be brought to the SWMF for free)

Window glass, broken windshields, drinking glasses

Any type of porcelain or pottery material
such as plates or pots

Plastic containers that hold hazardous waste
such as pesticides/herbicides, motor oil, and antifreeze bottles

Carbon paper
such as receipts

Scrap metal
such as lawn mower blades, brake drums, etc. Please consider bringing to a local scrap metal recycler (like the SWMF for free)

No Medical Waste.
Insulin Sharps or Sharps containers are NOT accepted in the recycling. These items may be disposed of in your household trash in minimal, residential quantities only if placed inside secured and rigid plastic bottles. Commercial entities must contract medical waste disposal with a medical waste company. 



Search for individual items using the "What Goes Where" look-up tool.


  • Do NOT bag your recyclables; PLASTIC BAGS ARE NOT RECYCLABLE and contents may not be recycled. All recyclables should be placed loosely in the cart.

  • Recyclables should be clean and dry. No food, please.

  • Break down all cardboard boxes and remove any bags, bubble wrap, or Styrofoam packing materials; these items are not recyclable.

  • Set your recycling cart within one foot of the curb by 7 a.m. on your service day.

  • Recycling is picked up every-other week. Find your recycling pick up day here. 

  • Unlike overflow trash, which will not be picked up, overflow recycling will be picked up. Any overflow recycling should be placed in paper bags, cardboard boxes, or reusable containers clearly marked "recycling." Please do not place extra recycling in plastic bags; bags ruin recycling.

  • Cardboard boxes that are not broken down will not be picked up. Due to the layout of the recycling trucks, drivers must place any overflow recycling back inside the City recycling cart in order to dump in the truck. Because of this, please break down any large cardboard boxes to be able to fit inside the City recycling cart. Boxes that cannot fit back in the City recycling cart should be brought to a City recycling drop-off center to recycle instead. 

  • Please do not force large pieces of cardboard down into the cart; they may block the recyclables underneath. Drivers cannot return for recycling that was trapped and could not fall out of the cart.

  • Please do not fill your recycling cart with too many books, magazines, or other heavy items; the recycling truck's automated arm can not lift heavy recycling carts without risking cart damage.


    If your brown/tan City of Knoxville recycling cart was not emptied on your regular pickup day, please follow these guidelines:

  • Leave your cart at the curb; do not pull it back to your house. Occasionally drivers work late or collect missed carts the next day.

  • Wait until the next business day to report. Trucks break down, construction blocks roads, and stops are rerouted. Even if you've noticed a pattern of when the recycling truck comes by, there are no set times for pickup. You can't be sure you were missed until the following day; therefore, please wait to report.

  • Report within two business days of being missed. If Monday is your recycling pickup day, for example, please report on Tuesday or Wednesday. If you miss the reporting window, we still want to know--but the driver can't return for the recycling until the next scheduled pickup day.

  • Report by calling 311 (or 865-215-4311 if the short version does not work) or by using the "Report Missed Pickup" button above. For fastest service, please do not email to report. Consider downloading the "My Knoxville App" to report recycling misses or any other City-related issue.