Where To Recycle On The Road

I have to admit, recycling on the road is a pain in the butt. This is a common complaint we’ve heard from everyone who lives on the road: where can we go to recycle?

Every time we go to a new area we have to start the search process all over again. We have yet to find a single resource (whether it’s a website, book, or app) that clearly lists all the recycling centers/locations throughout the country.

Us recycling in Salida, CO.

Us recycling in Salida, CO.

The downside of this is that the more difficult it is to find a place to recycle, the more unlikely people are going to recycle. Since we are really into recycling, we want to encourage RVers, van dwellers, and truck campers to continue to recycle as much as possible. This post will share how we find recycling centers - an attempt to make recycling on the road just a tad bit easier for you.

 

Here are the steps we take to find recycling centers:

  1. Google name of city to see what county it’s in.
  2. Then Google county for county website.
  3. On the county website we look for any links that talk about waste management if recycling does not specifically show up on the site.
    • Also look to see if there’s a phone number for a transfer station where more information about trash and recycling can typically be found.
  4. Sometimes recycling isn’t handled by the county but by the municipality. 
    • In that case take a couple of steps back and look for recycling information under the city website as opposed to the county website.
  5. If that doesn’t work then call and ask the visitor center because they are typically a wealth of information.
  6. If the town doesn’t have a dedicated visitor center then call the Chamber of Commerce.
  7. If you can’t get through to the Chamber of Commerce (I’ve had that happen once) the next places to call for recycling information:
    • Local (healthy) grocery stores
    • Library
    • Landfill – frequently recycling doesn’t happen at the landfill but if there is a recycling program, it could be under the same management, so they can at least get you a phone number to try.
  8. There are also the obvious ones of simply keeping an eye out for signs, and asking locals like cashiers when buying gas or food.
There are recycling bins next to trash cans at a lot of the pullouts along the highways in Alberta and British Columbia. The only downside is that the bins don't state what is recyclable.

There are recycling bins next to trash cans at a lot of the pullouts along the highways in Alberta and British Columbia. The only downside is that the bins don't state what is recyclable.

Some cities and towns are easier to find recycling in than others. We’ve had numerous occasions when a town doesn’t accept a certain item for recycling (glass being the most common), so we’ve kept it in our recycling bin to try at the next town. We know that not everyone has the space to keep extra recycling from one town to another (or much recycling in general). Our recycling bin is just a blue plastic bin with a lid that we leave in the back of the truck. We try to shop with recyclability in mind and not buy products made of materials that are harder to recycle. This is also something to keep in mind if you don’t have a lot of space to carry recyclables around. For example: Missoula doesn’t recycle glass, so we purchased beer in cans rather than glass bottles while we were in Missoula. Aluminum cans are one of the easiest things to recycle and can be recycled almost indefinitely unlike most other materials.

Our recycling lives in one of these 4 bins.

Our recycling lives in one of these 4 bins.

Some useful websites to help find recycling centers

  • Recycle Finder: It’s only useful for big cities.
  • I Want To Be Recycled: This site is useful for smaller towns.
  • A Bag’s Life: Helps you find places to recycle plastic bags, especially tough ones like dry-cleaning bags, bread bags, plastic wraps that paper towel and toilet paper comes in, and other plastic products that plastic bag bins don’t accept.

 

These places always have some Kind of recycling available

  • Grocery stores
    • If anything they will typically have a bin to recycle plastic shopping bags.
  • Target
    • Most Target stores have a bin to recycle plastic shopping bags.
    • Some Target stores will have additional recycle bins for plastic, paper, glass, etc.
  • National parks
    • It seems like all of the national parks we’ve been to have recycling bins next to trashcans if not a recycling area near the campground.
    • Bigger national parks will accept more types of recyclable than the smaller parks, which seem to only take plastic and aluminum.
This was the recycling center at Zion National Park.

This was the recycling center at Zion National Park.

  • Lowes
    • Lowes stores always have several bins by the entrances accepting plastic bags, batteries, light bulbs, and cell phones.
    • We typically shop at Lowes, but Home Depot may also have recycling bins in their stores.
  • Shipping store
    • We always drop off our air pillows that come in our Amazon orders at shipping stores because they are happy to accept and reuse them.
    • FedEx and UPS specific stores are stricter about what type of air pillows they use – it has to conform to whatever the company is already using.
  • Ikea
    • They have recycling bins (and we were happy to learn while in Salt Lake City that they a pretty eco-conscious company that invests in solar panels and wind turbines to provide their stores with renewable energy).

Please let us know if you have any additional tips or tricks to finding recycling locations. Happy recycling!


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