Recycling can be a frustrating task. Sometimes you go out of your way to make conscious decisions to help reduce waste and it's not enough. The problem with most recycling programs is that most people are often unaware of what can and can't be recycled. This leads to contamination of recycled products, meaning the entire batch gets thrown away and it's as if your efforts were for nothing.

Spreading awareness about recycling is so important because the more you know, the less you have to waste! We have created this Boise Recycling Guide for you to find all of the latest and most up-to-date information on the specific guidelines and processes for recycling in the Boise area.

A major problem people tend to have with recycling is access. Some areas aren't included in the truck's pickup route. If you live in one of these areas, do not stress!

You can still do your part. To participate, simply drop off your items in person to Western Recycling located at 1990 S Cole Rd

Whether you are preparing your recyclables for pickup or drop off, it is vital that the waste is organized into the proper categories. A general rule is to trash it if you can't identify it's correct category.

For the purposes of recycling in Boise, there are three categories of waste: recyclables, trash, and Hefty orange bag recyclables. Many cities around the country, including Boise, participate in the Hefty orange bag program (see more below).

The following is a guide to help you categorize your items the best you can:


These are the items that will be considered your loose recycling and will go in your blue recycle bin if you have one. There are 4 types of recyclable materials: 
  • Plastic

For plastics, look for a recycling symbol somewhere on the product where you'll see a number in the middle. In Idaho, you may recycle it if the answer is yes to the following questions:
1. Is it shaped like a jug?
2. Does it have a number 1 or 2?
    Example: Detergent bottle, soft drink or juice bottle
    • Paper

    Magazines, newspaper, mail, office paper. (Note: mail has to be made of all paper and cannot be a piece of mail with two materials bonded together)

    • Metal

    Aluminum and steel cans, no foil. (Note: cans must be ALL metal meaning labels made of other materials make them un-recyclable)
    • Cardboard

    Make sure the cardboard is flattened!


    • All plastic water bottles 

    Despite being jug-shaped and plastic, these types of crinkly water bottles are not recyclable. 

    • Clamshell Food Containers

    All hinged-lid boxes including pizza boxes and fruit/vegetable containers

    • Wax-coated 

    To-go cups, dairy and juice cartons etc. 

    • Unlabeled Plastic 

    • Empty Hazardous Waste and Pesticide Containers

    • Two materials bonded together

    Any of the items in the above category MUST be thrown in the trash and cannot be processed in the machines at the recycling center. 

    Orange Bag Recyclables

    Organizing your waste into the above two categories is an easy, simple way to recycle. 

    If you want to take it even further, we recommend participating in the orange bag program. The Hefty orange bag program is an initiative that allows households to recycle more than just the basic recyclables. These orange bags are available for purchase at the following stores in the area: 

    • Albertsons
    • Boise Co-op
    • Target

    The following is a list of items that are currently accepted in the orange bag program:

    • Any plastic marked with the numbers 4, 5, 6, or 7 

    • Other plastics

      • Kitchen 
    Plastic bags, plastic bottle caps, plastic dinnerware, plastic food packaging, plastic lids, plastic single-serve cups, plastic squeeze pouches, plastic straws, foam products 
      • Bathroom
    Toothpaste/lotion tubes, empty deodorant sticks, amber-colored Rx bottles
      • Office

    Plastic envelopes, bubble wrap, shrink wrap, air packs/pillows

    When bagging any of your recyclables, remember to clean them out the best you can to reduce risk of contamination. 

    The items in your orange bag must be tied tight and placed in the bin along with your loose recycling.

    Still confused on whether or not an item may be accepted for recycling? The City of Boise has created a Digital Sorting Guide to help you find anything outside the of this list to see if it will be accepted by the recycling centers in the area. 

    Finally, remember that recycling is a second-to-last-resort option to trashing an item. Despite being good for the planet, recycling still takes up a significant amount of energy and resources, so instead try finding more uses for things or "upscaling" them to make them last longer.

    We hope this guide makes you feel more comfortable trying to reduce your impact on an individual level. If you're interested in finding more ways to help, check out our Beginner's Guide to Sustainable Fashion. 🔗


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