Frequently Asked Questions

The following represent the most common inquiries asked by our users. Hopefully you can find the information you are seeking.

Earth911 Recycling Directory Questions

1. How can I find local recycling options?
2. Where do I find recyclers that will pay me?
3. Why are some of the Earth911 Recycling Directory listings located in a different state than the zip code I searched?
4. How are the listings ordered in search results? Can I customize the order?
5. How can I find a company that will pick-up materials?
6. Why do some listings that say “For residents of X only” show up if I searched for a ZIP code outside of that geography?
7. Why are there no search results for a material in my area?
8. How do I know that the materials being dropped off are actually recycled?
9. How do I suggest adding my own recycling business or a local recycler to the Earth911 Recycling Directory?
10. How do I suggest changes to a recycler listed in the Earth911 Recycling Directory?

General Recycling Questions

1. Is Product X recyclable?
2. How do I start a recycling program in my community (in America)?
3. How do I start a recycling program in my community (outside America)?
4. How do I start a recycling program in my office?
5. How do I start a recycling business?

Specific Material Recycling Questions

1. How do I recycle Styrofoam?
2. How do I recycle single-use batteries?
3. How do I recycle incandescent light bulbs?

General Earth911 Questions

1. Can Earth911 serve as a resource for my school project on recycling?
2. Does Earth911 accept materials for recycling?
3. Is an Earth911 representative available to speak at my event about recycling?
4. How can I submit a story idea for coverage on Earth911.com?
5. What is Earth911’s policy on linking to the Earth911.com website?
6. Does Earth911 produce handouts that I can distribute to promote recycling?
7. What is Earth911’s position on Issue X? Can you help support my cause?
8. How do I request use of the Earth911 logo or trademarks?

Earth911 Recycling Directory Questions


1. How can I find local recycling options?

The most comprehensive index of recycling opportunities can be accessed using the Earth911 Recycling Directory. Please type in your location (ideally a zip code) and the product you are looking to recycle and select “Search.” For any search results, be sure to call ahead to confirm acceptance.

You will receive more effective search results by using less vague product terms in the “What” field. For instance, a search for “Paper” will return results for any recycler that accepts one paper item, even though not all paper is recycled the same. Searching of a type of paper like “Newspaper” will provide more accurate search results.


2. Where do I find recyclers that will pay me?

At this time, Earth911 does not actively seek out information on which of the recycling directory listings will pay for your material. If we are made aware that a location will compensate for your recyclables, we will include this information in the notes on the listing, but there is currently no option to filter search results on this information. Your best option for an answer to this question is to contact the recyclers directly.

One of the common ways people associate making money from recycling is to utilize container deposit laws (or bottle bills). There are currently 10 states in the U.S. that have passed this legislation, where you pay an extra charge when purchasing beverage containers and it is redeemed when you recycle the containers. These 10 states have established redemption centers in all cities and counties, and you can find a list of redemption centers from your state department of environmental quality. Residents of the other 40 states are ineligible for a refund because they did not pay a fee when purchasing containers.


3. Why are some of the Earth911 Recycling Directory listings located in a different state than the zip code I searched?

The Earth911 Recycling Directory lists a combination of recycling opportunities, including curbside programs, local drop-offs and mail-in programs. Mail-in programs are likely located in a different state from where you searched, and are denoted in search results with a mailbox icon and the phrase “Mail-in program.” They also appear at the end of listings for the mileage range you selected. If these listings show up first, it means Earth911 is unaware of a curbside program or local drop-off for the searched material in your area, but you are eligible to recycle via mail.


4. How are the listings ordered in search results? Can I customize the order?

Earth911 Recycling Directory search results are organized by distance from the center of the zip-code searched, with a few exceptions:

  • Government-run curbside programs appear at the top of the search results, since if you have curbside access this is the shortest distance you’ll have to travel.
  • Mail-in programs appear at the end of search results.
  • Recyclers can enhance their listing in the directory, meaning it shows up at the top of search results for a specific material regardless of the distance from the center of the zip-code searched.

One way to customize the order is to use filters after you run a search. You can select “Curbside” to only show pick-up options, or “Mail-in” to only show mail-in programs. You can also increase or decrease your search radius using the drop-down menu next to “Within.”


5. How can I find a company that will pick-up materials?

Once you run a search for a material in your area, use the “Curbside” tab to filter out any recycling opportunities that are drop-off only. You’ll then want to contact recyclers directly to arrange pick-up.


6. Why do some listings that say “For residents of X only” show up if I searched for a  ZIP code outside of that geography?

Some of the listings in the Earth911 Recycling Directory are restricted by geography, either because they are funded by taxpayers of a certain community or they are pick-up programs that only serve a specific radius. The recycling directory does not filter out listings if your zip-code is outside of the restricted geography, and if the center of your ZIP code is closer to a neighboring community’s recycling collection points than your home community’s, the neighboring community’s recycling opportunity will show up earlier in the search results.


7. Why are there no search results for a material in my area?

There are three reasons why you may encounter a “No Results” search:

  1. Invalid material: The Earth911 Recycling Directory has over 300 materials and thousands of keywords that trigger searches on those materials, but if you search for a material outside of this list (e.g. “Diapers”) you will receive no results.
  2. Invalid location: The recycling directory is currently optimized for searches in the United States, although it has limited data in other countries. If you search a postal code outside of this range or a city that doesn’t exist, you will receive no results.
  3. No coverage: The recycling directory is only able to provide search results if recycling exists in an area. If you’re searching a valid material in a valid location and receiving no results, Earth911 is unaware of a recycling opportunity for your search.


8. How do I know that the materials being dropped off are actually recycled?

Earth911 does not certify any of the listings in the recycling directory, which means no recyclers are excluded. Before a recycler is added, Earth911 confirms with an authority at this collection point which materials are accepted. If you’d like to learn more about a recycler’s operation, all listings provide a phone number and/or website to contact the recycler directly.


9. How do I suggest adding my own recycling business or a local recycler to the Earth911 Recycling Directory?

You can use our Suggest a Listing form to solicit new listings to the Earth911 Recycling Directory. Please allow 3-5 business days for Earth911 staff to reach out and confirm the information you’ve suggested before anything is added to the recycling directory. Earth911 reserves the right to not add all suggested listings.

If you represent a recycling collection point and wish to be added, our Manage Earth911 service lets you control the way your information is presented, such as notes about the operation and what materials are accepted. There is no charge to add a listing or create a Manage Earth911 account.


10. How do I suggest changes to a recycler listed in the Earth911 Recycling Directory?

You can use our Data Corrections form to suggest changes to any listing in the Earth911 Recycling Directory. Please identify the name of the recycling listing and indicate what changes should be made. Please also allow 2-3 business days for Earth911 staff to verify changes with the recycler.

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General Recycling Questions


1. Is Product X recyclable?

There is no easy answer to this question, because recycling availability is based on a number of factors. The better question is “Can I recycle product X locally?” and you can use the Earth911 Recycling Directory for the answer.

If you represent a business trying to determine if your product is recyclable to a majority of American consumers, please learn more about our Material Recycling Reports.

2. How do I start a recycling program in my community (in America)?

Earth911.com has some great content that will help you start your own recycling program. In addition, the EPA has useful information regarding Recycling Market Development to help you decide what to collect.

If you are looking to use your program as a fundraiser, you can partner with a company to collect your paper. There are three national programs that offer this service in select markets:

  1. GreenFiber
  2. Paper Retriever
  3. SP Recycling

You’ll want to contact those companies directly to see if they service your area. They provide you with a bin for a parking lot, handle all the collection and pay you for all material recycled.

It may also prove fruitful to contact your local Department of Environmental Quality or Solid Waste Authority. Often, government officials at the city, county, or state level will have additional resources and tips for starting and maintaining recycling programs.

3. How do I start a recycling program in my community (outside America)?

Earth911 does not currently have any expertise in recycling laws or markets outside of the United States. You can use our International section to identify helpful resources in other countries for solid waste/recycling questions.


4. How do I start a recycling program in my office?

Earth911.com has created a handy guide for starting an office recycling program.


5. How do I start a recycling business?

Earth911 does not have expertise in the business of recycling, so we are unable to advise you in this matter. You can contact your local Department of Environmental Quality or Solid Waste Authority to learn more about starting a recycling business in your state.

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Specific Material Recycling Questions


1. How do I recycle Styrofoam?

There’s a little background for Expanded Polystyrene (EPS, what you may know by the brand name Styrofoam) that helps explain why you may experience a limited recycling market.

While EPS is recyclable, this can be an expensive process compared with making new EPS from raw material (in order to justify the costs of collection, recyclers have to sell it and make it into new material). Part of this is because EPS is an end product. Once this type of plastic becomes expanded, it can only be recycled into new EPS.

Many of the listings in the Earth911 Recycling Directory for this product are mail-in programs, where a manufacturer will accept the product if you pay for the shipping. You can also visit the Association of Foam Packaging Recyclers website to find additional companies that accept EPS, but some request that it is provided in bulk from businesses instead of from consumers.

Another option to consider for your EPS in packaging form is reuse. Retailers like the UPS Store or FedEx/Kinko’s often accept packing peanuts and EPS blocks for reuse. Please call your local store to verify acceptance and/or limitations.


2. How do I recycle single-use batteries?

The issue with single-use batteries is that they don’t have enough valuable material inside (e.g. metals) to cover the costs of recycling, and they aren’t considered dangerous enough to the environment in most states to justify the costs of collection. Unless you live in California (where these batteries are considered hazardous waste), you may have a difficult time finding a recycler that will take them at no cost.

You may want to read up on the Mercury-Containing and Rechargeable Battery Management Act of 1996 for more information. It required manufacturers to remove mercury from single-use batteries and develop a take-back recycling program for rechargeable batteries. This is why you’ll see many more options for rechargeable battery recycling in our directory than for single-use.

You may want to consider a national mail-in program for your single-use batteries. These will typically charge a fee to cover shipping and recycling costs. If you decide to put these batteries in the garbage, Earth911 suggests you tape the terminals and put them in a plastic bag to limit the amount of battery acid that may leak out in a landfill.


3. How do I recycle incandescent light bulbs?

There is not a large market for incandescent bulb recycling because the expense to process the different materials does not often offset the value of these materials. Fluorescent bulbs are commonly recycled because they contain mercury, which is both a valuable metal and hazardous to the environment if improperly disposed.

Earth911 is currently unaware of a recycling market for incandescent light bulbs, which is why this is not a searchable listing in the Earth911 Recycling Directory.

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General Earth911 Questions


1. Can Earth911 serve as a resource for my school project on recycling?

Students can utilize Earth911.com’s Recycling 101 section to find all sorts of statistics and helpful information on recycling different products. Please feel free to cite any of these statistics in your school project provided that you cite Earth911.com.

If you are looking for someone to interview for your project, please contact our Editorial and Media team.


2. Does Earth911 accept materials for recycling?

While you can use the Earth911 Recycling Directory to search for local recycling opportunities, we are not a recycling center. Therefore we are unable to collect any materials from recyclers.


3. Is an Earth911 representative available to speak at my event about recycling?

While the Earth911 Recycling Directory provides a national solution for how to recycle products, our business maintains only one primary office in Scottsdale, Arizona. Therefore it is difficult for us to appear at events around the country.

If you are looking for speakers to discuss recycling at your event, you should contact your local recycling coordinator.

4. How can I submit a story idea for coverage on Earth911.com?

Please send any press materials to Nate Lipka, Earth911.com’s Managing Editor. If you wish to mail a product for Earth911’s review, please send to:

Earth911, Inc.
1375 N. Scottsdale Rd, Suite 140
Scottsdale, AZ 85257

Due to the high volume of requests, you may not receive a response to your inquiry.


5. What is Earth911’s policy on linking to the Earth911.com website?

Please understand that our site can neither grant or deny links from other websites, so the decision to link to Earth911 is at the discretion of your website staff.

Companies seeking to utilize Earth911 as a resource to educate their consumers about proper disposal can find business solutions at business.earth911.com.


6. Does Earth911 produce handouts that I can distribute to promote recycling?

In order to conserve resources, we do not currently distribute any brochures, print materials or promotional goods.

Please feel free to republish any of the textual information you find on Earth911.com provided that you cite Earth911.com as the source, and that it will not be used for commercial purposes. You can find more detailed information regarding this in our terms of use.


7. What is Earth911’s position on Issue X? Can you help support my cause?

Earth911 is a politically neutral organization, which means we do not advocate for or against any causes. Earth911 is unable to support any advocacy campaigns in order to maintain this policy of neutrality.


8. How do I request use of the Earth911 logo or trademarks?

Use of Earth911 logos and trademarks requires permission. Please submit a logo request.

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If none of these provide an answer to your question, you can fill out our contact form.