HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Do you know what is actually recyclable? Many people don't. That's why Hillsborough County officials want to make sure you're recycling properly. 

More than 58,000 tons of curbside recyclables are collected each year and in order to help identify common recycling mistakes, the solid waste management department is conducting a "recycling composition study."

Crews have found a number of banned items tossed in blue curbside recycle bins — from old fans and paint cans, to building materials, car radiators, and garbage disposals.  Those recycled items could cause major damge to processing machines or shut down the recycle plant completely. 

"So, we are seeing across the country as people recycle more and care more about the environment, that's all positive," said Hillsborough County Recycling Coordinator Travis Barnes. "But when they are not recycling properly that can be detrimental to our overall program."

Recycling contamination was under 15 percent just a few years ago. Today, reported contamination nationwide is above 22 percent.  That can drive the cost of recycling up for local governments. 

In Hillsborough County, the only items allowed in blue curbside bins include:

  • Clean & empty plastic bottles and containers
  • Clean & empty aluminum cans
  • Clean & empty glass bottles and jars
  • Dry paper, newspaper, and junk mail
  • Clean & empty milk and juice cartons
  • Dry flattened cardboard
  • Dry paperboard boxes

Other items like car parts, electronics, building materials, large household items, can be recycled but must be dropped off at sites that are equipped to recycle those items.

The Hillsborough County Recycling website has locations to those sites and more details on what items are allowed in the blue curbside bins.