Recycling Guidelines

Atlantic County residents can recycle accepted items together in one container. Items should be empty, clean and dry! Do not store in bags, please keep items loose in container. ACUA may flag your container and refuse pickup if there are plastic bags present.



#1-2 ONLY where necks are smaller than the base 

No food or liquid residue! Please remove caps and lids! Examples:

  • Water/Soda/Juice bottles
  • Milk Jugs
  • Shampoo Bottles
  • Laundry Detergent Jugs
  • Ketchup Bottle



All Glass Bottles/Containers/Jars - lids and caps removed (if metal, recycle separately)



  • Printer Paper
  • Envelopes (with or without windows)  
  • Cereal Boxes  
  • Cartons (milk, juice, broth) Also known as Tetrapak or aseptic containers 
  • Junk Mail  
  • Magazines/ Newspapers  
  • Telephone Books  
  • Cardboard (corrugated must be flattened and tied with twine)  



Aluminum/Steel/Tin cans and lids

DO NOT Recycle  

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The above guidelines apply to Atlantic County customers. If you reside in Cumberland County, please click here. If you reside in Cape May County, please click here.

Reasons for Program Changes:

NO Plastics #3-7 -  ACUA will now only accept plastics #1-2 where necks are smaller than the base. This includes clean, empty and dry plastic bottles, laundry detergent bottles, ketchup bottles, and milk jugs.

These changes reflect the “wish-list” of manufacturers who purchase recycled material. Much of this manufacturing takes place in China where there has been a widespread crackdown on contamination of recycling bales entering the country.

The growth of single-use plastics has also increased the number of plastic items entering the recycling stream, and all plastics are not created equally. These items have different chemical makeups, even those with the same recycling number!

The #1 and #2 plastic jugs, bottles and containers with smaller necks is the best description for what manufacturers are seeking, which is plastic items made with Natural HDPE or Colored/Pigmented HDPE.

NO Wrapping Paper or Tissue Paper - Many types of wrapping paper now include metallic or glitter items that contaminate the stream. Many are also filled with flame retardant chemicals. Because there is a great likelihood that residents will have embellished wrapping paper, we ask that residents please keep it out of their stream.

NO Shredded Paper - The paper is too small to be processed by recycling sorting facilities. Bags of shredded paper often become torn or damaged during collection, releasing small pieces of paper which cannot be separated for recycling. Shredded paper can be taken to our drop-off bin for recycling. Click here for more information.

NO Pizza Boxes - Water, grease and other residue degrades the value of paper. Most pizza boxes are covered in grease and contaminate the cardboard.   

NO Paint Cans - Most paint cans have paint still in them which contaminates other recyclable material.

NO Aerosol Cans - Aerosol cans are marked a danger to recycling sorting facilities.

NO PET Clam-shell Containers - Clam-shell containers are different from plastic bottles because the two use different formulations of plastic that melt at different temperatures, making it hard for manufacturers to reuse this material. They are also likely to be contaminated with food waste.

Plastic Drip Tape - Both foreign and domestic markets for this material have ended.

NO Photo Paper/Photos - Most print-at-home photo paper has a coating of plastic that makes it different than regular paper.

For actual photos: photography processing is a chemically-intensive operation that involves a whole host of ingredients, from acetic acid to gelatin. Some of these photographic chemicals remain in the paper of the resulting photographs — posing challenges to recyclers.

NO Single-Use Coffee Cups* - Most single-use cups are lined with a fine film of polyethylene, which protects the cups from the liquid inside. It is difficult and expensive to reprocess (because the materials must be separated). Styrofoam coffee cups are not accepted either.

NO Frozen Food Boxes* - If it comes from the freezer, it should go in the trash. Frozen-food boxes are lined with plastic on the inside that protects the food from getting freezer-burnt or wet.

*How are these products different than cartons that we do accept? These products use a different grade of plastic lining than cartons (also referred to shelf-stable aseptic or refrigerated gable-top containers). The plastic used in cartons more easily melts off the product, which is better for manufacturers seeking to reuse these materials. This includes milk cartons, soup and broth cartons, or shelf-stable milks.  Refrigerated or on the shelf? Yes. Frozen? No.

Collection and Drop-Off Information

Recycling collection differs by municipality. Click here to view your collection schedule. Residents of Atlantic County may drop off single stream recycling materials as well as bulky rigid plastic materials at our Recycling Drop-Off located at our Environmental Park during normal business hours.

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