Cedar Rapids Garbage & Recycling Dos and Don’ts

With Earth Day upon us, let’s freshen up on the Dos and Don’ts of the Cedar Rapids Garbage & Recycling program.

Have you ever visited someone’s house and cringed at the items being thrown away because their local facilities can’t handle the cost/volume/processing of recyclables?

Or worse yet, they throw items away because they don’t know what can and should be recycled or composted?

We are so fortunate to live in a city that values the consumer’s ability to recycle and compost products instead of adding them to the landfill. Let these reminders be beneficial to your family for daily use, when you have large groups of people in your home, and to use as teachable moments for your kids. 

Recycling [CURBY]

CR Garbage & Recycling


  • Do toss in the cardboard, newspaper, junk mail, magazines, office paper, envelopes (including those with plastic windows), food/cereal boxes, and phone books.
  • I would never consider ridding myself of the hundreds of crafts that my kids make. But if you so chose to do so, do throw papers with glue, tape, and staples in the recycling! Keep those with paint and glitter in the trash can.
  • Don’t add paper that is wet, tissue paper, or wrapping paper; add that to the garbage.


  • Do add items marked with recycling symbols #1-7 (that’s a lot!!). Be sure to rinse well and remove the lids
  • Do not include plastic bags of any kind: grocery bags (recycle those at grocery stores), ziplock, chip, or vegetable. These go in the trash.
  • Do not recycle any styrofoam. This can be tricky as it sometimes has a recycling number on it. It always goes in the garbage.
  • Do not recycle plastic silverware. Unless it states that it’s compostable, it goes in the trash. 


  • Do throw soup/veggie/coffee cans, aluminum foil, and pie plates in the CURBY.
  • Do return beverage cans to the store for your deposit…yay Iowa! If not, they can go in the recycling, too.
  • Do not include wire hangers and large items such as pots, pans, shelving, etc. These can be dropped off at either of the Cedar Rapids Linn County Solid Waste Agency locations:
    • 1954 County Home Road Marion, IA
    • 2250 A Street SW Cedar Rapids, IA


  • Do include juice, milk/soy/almond milk, broth/stock, cream cartons in the recycling bin.


  • Do return glass to the store for your deposit.
  • Do combine remaining food and beverage clear and colored glass in a 5 gallon bucket and place next to the CURBY on the ground. (Don’t put the bucket on top of the CURBY; wind and glass make for a frustrating combination.)
  • Do not include Pyrex, windows, or drinking glasses in your 5 gallon bucket. This is for food and beverage glass only.

Yard Waste [YARDY]

CR Garbage & Recycling

  • Do toss paper towels, paper coffee cups, paper plates (including those with wax coating!), napkins, coffee filters/grounds, and tea bags in your YARDY.
  • Do add all fruit/vegetable waste and baked goods to your YARDY for composting. We collect ours in a bowl and toss out daily, even in the winter. (We keep ours just outside our patio door for easy access!)
  • Do include all yard waste such as leaves, grass clippings, small sticks/twigs.
  • Do not include pet waste. Instead, bag it and put in the garbage.
  • Do not include animal products, such as raw meat, leftover cooked meat/fat, dead animals, etc.

Garbage [GARBY]

CR Garbage & Recycling

  • Do put all of your trash in a sealed bag before placing it in the GARBY.
  • Do purchase a $1.50 ticket from various HyVee stores and gas stations (complete list here) for extra garbage bags that don’t fit.
  • Do not throw loose trash items in the GARBY.

Did you know?

You could have a party or gathering and throw the paper plates and napkins in the YARDY? Just toss the plastic cups in the CURBY and you’re only left with the plastic silverware in the trash. Boom! (Remember that leftover food for the YARDY should only be fruit/vegetable waste and baked goods…the rest goes in the trash.)

You could get a fast food meal and recycle the cup, lid, burger clamshell (if clean/dry), fries container, and bag! Any wrappers (burger or fries), leftover food (despite fruit/vegetables/baked goods), and straws head to the trash. 

As your family sits in a big circle opening presents, you don’t have to throw everything in that trash bag in the center of the circle. Reuse the gift bags and boxes, recycle the boxes, and toss the wrapping and tissue paper in the trash.

If you’re not sure about an item, you can call the Cedar Rapids Solid Waste & Recycling Center at (319) 286-5897 or visit their website for more information. 

Don’t live in Cedar Rapids?

Here are some links for Garbage & Recycling facts in some surrounding communities. If unsure, please contact your local solid waste agency to learn more!

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