Recycling turns materials that would end up in the landfill into reusable items. Currently 40% of everything going into the landfill can be recycled. Recycling such things as bottles, cans and paper, instead of throwing them in the trash, is critical in generating a host of financial, environmental and social returns for our country.
Recycling protects and expands manufacturing jobs and increases competitiveness; prevents pollution caused by manufacturing products from unused raw materials; saves energy; conserves natural resources and helps sustain the environment for future generations.
One of the tips to make recycling easy it to keep a paper grocery bag in the kitchen to catch all the recyclables generated in that room of the house. When it is full, simply dump the contents of the paper bag directly into the recycling collection cart and drop the bag on top. Recyclables left in a bag can't be sorted by the machinery and will instead go to the landfill as garbage. The main thing to remember is that all items should be loose in your cart, not in any kind of bag, paper or plastic.
The City of Des Moines Public Works Department offers a drop-off site for the purpose of recycling cardboard only. We ask that you please break down boxes before placing them in the available bins. The site is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and is located at 108 SE 5th Street. For more information, call the Call Center at (515) 283-4950.
Municipal code states collection carts are allowed at your curbside 12 hours before your collection date, and must be removed within 12 hours after your collection date.
Place cart at curb no later than 7 a.m. on recycling day (or) no earlier than 5 p.m. the day before
Place at curb on a level surface (no more than 18” from the street or arm’s length)
Cart should be at least 3 feet from all permanent structures. This includes other collection carts, yard bags or bundles, mailboxes, fences, wall, utility poles and other stationary items on the curb.
Metal bar must face the street
The lid must be closed.
Do not over fill the cart.
Do not place cart under low hanging tree branches.
Remove cart from collection point after collection.
- Wrapping paper: If it's paper and tears, it is recyclable
- Cardboard boxes are recyclable
- Ribbons, foil wrap and bows are NOT recyclable
- Hard plastic 'shells' and styrofoam are NOT recyclable
How to Recycle
Put your recyclables inside the cart (loose, not bagged as plastic bags are not recyclable)
Close the cart lid. This prevents the scattering of debris by wind and animals
At curb no later than 7 a.m. on garbage day, no earlier than 5 p.m. the day before
Place at curb on a level surface (no more than 18” from the street, or arms length)
Cart should be at least 3 feet from all permanent structures. (other collection carts, yard bags or bundles, mailboxes, fences, wall, utility poles and other stationary items on the curb)
Metal bar must face the street
The lid must be closed. Do not over fill the cart
DO NOT place cart under low hanging tree branches
There’s also a cardboard only drop-off site located at 108 SE 5th Street if you have just cardboard that needs to be recycled.
PaperNewspaper, magazines, junk mail, shredded paper (in a paper bag), cardboard (flattened), paper and hard back books & phone books.
Food CartonsPaper milk cartons, juice cartons, protein drink cartons, wine cartons, egg substitute cartons, soup & broth cartons.
PlasticsPlastic containers with twist-off lids, water bottles, soap bottles (rinsed), yogurt & margarine tubs (no lids).
CansAluminum cans, tin cans, steel cans, bi-metal cans, jar lids, aerosol cans (empty).
GlassAll colors of glass food containers, beverage containers, non-food containers.
Please rinse all containers before recycling. Labels are okay!
Visit WhereItShouldGo.com for a full list of what's accepted in your recycling cart.
The following should be thrown away, not placed in your recycling cart
- Plastic bags of any kind
- Food storage containers
- Sour cream, cottage cheese and cool whip containers
- Berry containers
- Convenience store cups
- Aluminum foil
- Pots, pans or utensils
- Metallic, foil, mylar or glittery gift wrap
- Yard and garden waste
- Hazardous waste
- Electronic waste (e-waste)
- Containers that once held motor oil or antifreeze
- Paper contaminated with food:
- Pizza boxes
- Fast food containers
- Coated paper coffee cups
- Toilet paper
- Paper towels/napkins
- Photo paper
- Clothing of any type
- Pipes (PVC or metal)
- Light bulbs
Visit WhereItShouldGo.com for a full list of what's not accepted in your recycling cart.
- To qualify, residents must recycle the correct items in blue recycle carts.
- To learn more about what can and cannot be recycled, check out the list of accepted and unaccepted items for your blue recycling cart.
- If you or someone you know believes you are recycling correctly and want to achieve Gold Level Super Recycler status, please complete this FORM to request a recycling audit.
- Once your request is received, a City of Des Moines recycling crew will check the contents of your cart on your next recycling day and determine if it qualifies to be part of the program.
- A City of Des Moines recycling crew inspects the contents of blue recycle carts to determine if the contents are on the recyclables list and free from unacceptable items.
- An inspection showing zero contaminations qualifies you for the Gold Level Recycling Program and your blue lid will be replaced with the gold lid on your next recycle day.
Recycling is included with your garbage collection services and is available to all residents.
Recycle carts are free of charge and are available upon request.
For information on the program or to request a Recycle cart you may contact the Department of Public Works, 24-Hour Customer Service Center at (515) 283-4950 or you may request a cart online using our Recycle Request Form
- Eligibility Requirements for this Program are:
- A physicians’ statement verifying a disability that prevents moving the collection carts to the curb
- No other member of the household is able to move the cart to the curb
- Application Process:
- Contact the Department of Public Works, 24-Hour Customer Service Center at (515) 283-4950 to request an appointment to fill out application ( or) complete a request for an appointment using our online form. (Appointments are made for your next garbage collection day)
- A City of Des Moines Department of Public Works Solid Waste Foreman will stop at your residence to explain program details, requirements and complete an application for each person living there. The Foreman will give you paperwork to be filled out by your Physician
- You will be placed on the route for non-curbside collection services when we receive the physician's paperwork
Contact us at 515-283-4950 to report missed recycling collection (or) Recycle Request Form
What you should know before you report a missed collection:
Collection carts must be curbside at 7 a.m. on collection day
Please assure this is the correct week for recycle collection
Missed collections must be reported before 5 p.m. the day after collection
Missed collections reported later than 5 p.m. the following day will be subject to a $25 collection fee (added to your monthly Des Moines Water Works bill)
Recycle carts put out after 7 a.m. on collection day will be subject to a $25 collection fee