Mill Valley Refuse Service Commercial Services

Commercial Recycling Service

Mill Valley Refuse Service provides commercial recycling service in Almonte, Alto, Belvedere, Corte Madera, Homestead, Mill Valley, Strawberry, Tiburon and several unincorporated areas of Marin County. Visit our Commercial Service Guidelines to learn more about our collection service.

It’s the law: California businesses that generate four or more cubic yards of solid waste must recycle. Learn more.

 At a Glance

  • Commercial customers are on a mixed-stream recycling program meaning all recyclables (glass, cans, paper etc.) can be placed in your Recycle Cart(s) together (no separation of recyclables required).
  • Some customers also utilize Cardboard Containers (or bins) which are for flattened cardboard only. 
  • Cart(s) must be out for collection by 6:00 a.m. on your designated pickup day
  • IMPORTANT Contaminated carts (ones that contain any material other than approved recycling material) will be dumped and charged as trash

Mixed Recycling Carts are Brown or Blue

California is in the process of standardizing cart colors to make it easier to properly separate materials to recycle, compost, or landfill no matter where you are.

Many of our commercial customers currently use a BROWN cart for mixed recycling. If your business or complex has a BROWN cart, please continue to use it for mixed recycling. As these brown carts become non-serviceable, we will replace them with the new standardized BLUE carts.

New commercial customers receive all BLUE carts for mixed recycling. 

Image of a brown and blue recycling cart.
Cartoon of man above the 4 carts offered by MVRS for residential customers: 2 for Recycling, Compost, & Garbage

What Goes Where?

Not sure how to properly dispose of something? Search our What Goes Where tool to find out if a material can be reused, recycled, composted, or disposed of in your trash.

Tip: This tool works best if you search for categories instead of a brand name or very particular product. For instance, rather than “Coffee-mate container” search instead for “plastic beverage bottle.” Instead of “cottage cheese container” search instead for “plastic tub.”

What Can and Can’t Go in The Mixed Recycle Cart

Image of a brown and blue recycling cart.

Below are guidelines about what can and cannot go in your mixed Recycle Cart, but we suggest using the What Goes Where tool above to look up specific items.

Note About Recycling Numbers 1-7

Don't Count on that Recycling Number

Plastic products are sometimes stamped with a number surrounded by the recycling symbol. These numbers only signify the chemical composition of the type of plastic the container is made of. The numbers have nothing to do with whether or not there is an actual market for recycling that type of plastic.

Regardless of the number, only bottles, jugs and tubs should be put into your recycle cart. If a plastic item falls outside that group of items, it should, unfortunately, go into the trash to avoid contaminating your recycling stream.

When in doubt, use our searchable “What Goes Where” online tool to determine if a material can be reused, recycled, composted, or disposed of in your trash.

Recycle Contamination Policy

We know that it can be difficult to determine what materials are recyclable. Unfortunately, when in doubt, it’s better to throw it out (in the garbage) than to risk contaminating your recycling cart.


What is Recycling Contamination?

Contamination is the term used to describe anything that renders your recycled items non-recyclable. Besides ruining good material, contamination increases labor costs at processing plants as workers try to separate contaminated material from good material. Contamination typically occurs when:

  • Non-recyclable items are put in collection carts
  • Bags of recyclables are dropped into carts rather than dumping the recyclables in loose. Bags are NOT torn open at the processing plants so the bag and all its contents end up in the trash.


Common Recycling Contaminants

  • Plastic bags and Packaging (should go into trash)
  • Garbage bags (only garbage goes into garbage bags, do not bag your recyclables)
  • E-Waste/Batteries (see Hazardous Wastes)
  • Scrap Metal & Hangers (should go into trash)
  • Food (should go into your compost cart)
  • Styrofoam (should go into trash)
  • Diapers (should go into trash)
  • Clothing (donate or goes into trash)

Common Recycling Contaminants

How We Address Recycling Contamination

Recycle Carts will not be dumped if heavily contaminated with trash.

Instead, our driver will leave a Violation Notice (click on image at right to see a bigger version) on the cart handle describing the contaminant observed in the cart, and providing an opportunity to clean out the cart for pick up the following week. Or you may opt to request a special pickup (for a fee) after cleaning the cart.

When a cart is tagged, a sticker that describes a number of the most common contaminants will be placed on the cart lid as a permanent reminder of what should NOT be put in the cart.

If you receive a Violation Notice and want to schedule a special pickup, call our office at (415) 457-9760.

Recycling Videos

The Truth About Plastics

This video from the New York Times helps explain some of the issues around plastic recycling labeling.

Plastic Wars

Have efforts to solve the plastic pollution problem made it worse? Go inside the battle over plastics, recycling and what’s at stake with PBS’ Frontline: Plastic Wars.

What is Recycling Contamination?

Recycling Plastic Right

© 2024 Mill Valley Refuse Services. All rights reserved.

Developed with open source software on solar powered servers by Mobius Intelligent Systems, LLC. and Duckhorn Marketing.