Grand Rapids recyclingGrand Rapids’ (pop. 190,411) recycling program is on the way up, in more ways than one. Introducing single-stream recycling in 2010 is only a step up on the ladder toward a more sustainable future for western Michigan’s largest city. The city’s green goals include a 30% waste diversion rate by June 30, 2013; 5% reduced mileage on refuse and recycling routes by June 30, 2015; and mobile phone reporting of illegal waste dumps via the GR311 app for iPhone and Android operating systems. Grand Rapids residents can actually choose the size of their recycling bin to best suit their waste needs — sizes range from 35, 64 or 96 gallons. The carts are also fairly unique looking — two-tone with yellow lids and blue bases, they are made of 40% recycled plastic. Not bad!

Materials recycled

Paper Including newspapers (inserts accepted); typing, writing, and computer paper; junk mail, envelopes, fliers; magazines and catalogs; telephone books, brown paper bags; shoe boxes, cracker boxes and cereal boxes (paperboard); corrugated cardboard and shredded paper. Shredded paper must be placed in brown paper bags. All cardboard must be broken down to no larger than 2×2 size. All paper must fit in the bin. No staples, wrapping, strapping or plastic liners of any kind accepted. Plastics Including milk jugs; water, detergent and shampoo bottles; butter tubs; yogurt cups; microwave food trays; plant flats & flower pots; peanut butter jars and other plastic containers that are stamped number 1 through 7 (must be rinsed; no lids or plastic rings). Plastic bags labeled #2 or #4 accepted as well (must be clean and free of any items inside). No Styrofoam accepted. Metals Including tin, aluminum or steel food and beverage containers; aluminum foil; and empty aerosol cans (all must be rinsed and without paper labels). Glass Clear and colored food and beverage glass containers (rinsed; no lids or plastic rings)


Curbside pick-up occurs on a biweekly basis, day of the week depending on location (a map and schedule is available online.) Bins must be placed curbside by 7 a.m. on day of pick-up.

Other programs

Kent County, which includes Grand Rapids, operates four locations for weekday drop-off of household hazardous waste by appointment. Periodically, drop-off is available on designated Saturdays without an appointment (schedule available here). One county location is in Grand Rapids proper at 1500 Scribner Ave. NW. The others are located in nearby Kentwood, Rockford and Wyoming. The HHW program accepts automotive products, cleaning products, indoor pesticides, lawn and garden products, workshop/painting supplies, flammable products and other miscellaneous items. A full list of accepted items can be found online. Yard waste, including grass clippings, leaves, brush, twigs less than 2 inches in diameter and garden plants, is collected from the first Monday in April and runs until the second Friday in December every year. Grand Rapids residents can purchase a 96-gallon yard waste cart for $27.50. A supplementary cart tag ($5.25) is needed each time the cart is to be collected. Tagged yard waste carts must be placed curbside by 7 a.m. on the same day as refuse pick-up. Alternatively, residents can use the city yard waste paper bag ($7.50 for a package of five). Bags also must be tagged ($1.50) each time they are to be picked up.

More information

Visit the City of Grand Rapids Recycling and Refuse website for more recycling program info.