What Happens to My Recycling?

Here in the City of Santa Barbara, our blue bin recyclables are collected and brought Santa Barbara County ReSource Center where items are sorted into material types by machine. These materials are then purchased by buyers from companies that recycle them into other products.

Recycling markets have changed drastically over the last year, so our Accepted Items list has also changed. If there aren't buyers for certain types of low quality plastics, then they cannot be recycled.

[ expand/close all ]

Blue Bin Rules-of-thumb:

  • All items should be empty/clean, dry, and loose (not bagged).
  • No styrofoam or film plastics like plastic bags, plastic wrap, or bubble wrap.
  • If you're recycling correctly, with no food or liquid contamination, your bin will always be clean with no need for a liner or bag. (plastic bags are not allowed in the blue bin anyway)

New Recycling Guidelines:

For a complete list of Acceptable and Unacceptable items, review the detailed table at the bottom of the page.

Other Tips:

  • All recyclables can be mixed together in the container.
  • Please flatten cardboard boxes.
  • Empty your recyclables of all of their contents.
  • Emptying and rinsing containers is required because it keeps your recycling bin clean and makes the containers more likely to be recycled. Learn more: "How Clean Do My Recyclables Need to Be?"
  • It is not necessary to remove labels, rings, staples, paperclips or other items.
  • We DO NOT accept plastic bags in the blue bin and prefer you return them to a drop-off location or don't take them at all. Learn more about plastic bag recycling.

CRV Redemption

CRV is a State program that places a 5 or 10 cent redemption value on bottles and cans. Their website is https://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/bevcontainer/

There are two official CRV redemption centers in the city of Santa Barbara:

Downtown Recycling "ABOP" Center — 132 Nopalitos Way

Santa Barbara Iron and Metal Recyclers — 709 East Gutierrez Street

For large quantities, these centers pay by weight, but a consumer has the right to be paid based on count instead of weight for up to 50 empty beverage containers of each material type.  This means you can bring up to 50 aluminum, 50 glass, 50 plastic, and 50 bi-metal California Redemption Value (CRV) containers in a single visit and request to be paid by count.