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Residential Services

Residential Recycling Service

Mill Valley Refuse Service provides residential recycling service in Almonte, Alto, Belvedere, Corte Madera, Homestead, Mill Valley, Strawberry, Tiburon and several unincorporated areas of Marin County.

Visit our Residential Service Guidelines to learn more about our collection service.

Mill Valley Refuse Warning

Dual Stream / Alternating Week Collection Method

For many years, Mill Valley Refuse Service operated a mixed — or single-stream — recycling service allowing our customers to mix all of their recycling materials in one cart for weekly collection. In August of 2019, after a successful pilot program was completed and with the support of our jurisdictions, we made the decision to switch to a dual stream recycling collection method for our residential customers which produces cleaner, higher-quality recycling material and cuts our carbon footprint by allowing us to drop off recyclables at the Marin Recycling Center in San Rafael.

We provide two recycle carts — one for Paper and one for Containers — and pick each up on an alternating week pick up schedule.

You should be sorting your recycling in the duel stream method as described below.

At a Glance

  • Paper and cardboard are collected separately from containers (glass, plastic and metal)
  • Paper and cardboard ONLY go into your brown Paper Cart with the blue lid
  • Containers ONLY go into your brown Container Cart with the brown lid
  • Paper is picked up one week, and Containers are picked up the next on an Alternating Week Pickup Schedule (see schedule)
  • No room for the extra cart? It’s okay to use one cart. Click here to learn how.
  • Cart(s) must be at the street by 6:00 a.m. on your designated pickup day
  • IMPORTANT Contaminated carts (ones that contain any material other than approved recycling material) may be dumped and charged as trash
MVRS Recycle Icons
What Goes Where Tool

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.”

Proper Dual Stream Sorting Starts In The Home

We suggest:

  1. Use two containers in your home for storing recyclables. These could be buckets or reusable bags as shown in the photo on the right.
  2. Designate one bag for containers (cans, glass, & plastic) and one for paper products (paper, cardboard boxes, & mail).
  3. When the bags are full, dump them into the appropriate outdoor cart.
Recycle Bag Example

What Can and Can’t Go In The Paper Cart

Mill Valley Refuse Paper Recycle Cart

The brown cart with the blue lid is for clean paper and cardboard material only.

Please keep paper separate from container recycling before placing in the cart to prevent contamination.

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

The following items are accepted in the Paper Cart. (If it’s not on the list below, please trash the item.)
  • ​Office paper (any color)
  • Newspaper & magazines
  • Paperboard (like cereal & shoe boxes)
  • Junk mail and catalogs
  • Paper tubes
  • Paper egg cartons
  • Paperback books
  • Shredded paper in a paper bag
  • Cardboard – Cardboard must be packed in 2’x2’x2′ bundles or smaller and tied with twine or string (no plastic tape please) if it does not fit into the cart. If it easily fits in the Paper Cart, cardboard does not need to be bundled.
The following items are not accepted in the Paper Cart.
  • Waxed or plastic-coated paper or cardboard
  • Paper towels or tissues
  • Wrapping paper
  • Food soiled paper
  • Juice, soup, soy, milk boxes & cartons
  • Paper cups
Paper Cart No Nos

What Can and Can’t Go In The Container Cart

Mill Valley Refuse Container Recycle Cart

The brown cart with the brown lid is for containers only (i.e. glass jars and bottles, metal and aluminum cans, and plastic bottles). 

All items must be rinsed or wiped clean of food residue.

Please keep containers separate from paper recycling before placing in the cart to prevent contamination.

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

The following items are accepted in the Container Cart. (If it’s not on the list below, please trash the item.)
  • Glass bottles & jars (clean)
  • Aluminum cans & foil (clean)
  • Plastic bottles, tubs & jugs (clean; okay to leave caps on)
  • Tin & bi-metal cans and food trays (clean)
  • Pressurized aerosol cans (empty)
The following items are not accepted in the Container Cart.
  • Styrofoam (with or without the triangle arrows label)
  • Compostable plastic (with or without the triangle arrows label)
  • Light bulbs and CFLs
  • Fluorescent light bulbs*
  • Plate glass, windows or mirrors
  • Ceramics, Dinnerware, Pyrex
  • Plastic bags
  • Juice bags & pouches
  • Metal hangers
  • Paint cans (metal)*
  • Pressurized aerosol cans* (if full or partially full)
  • Propane tanks*
*To dispose of these hazardous wastes visit our Hazardous Waste page. Container Recycling No Nos

Alternating Week Recycling Pickup Calendar

Download a printable version of the Alternating Week Recycling Pickup Calendar. This one prints on a single, standard, letter-size paper.

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

We know it may take time to get used to dual stream recycling. There will be a grace period if mistakes are made in which our drivers will dump your carts. However, they will leave the following Courtesy Service Notice on your cart as a reminder before they have to start leaving carts that aren’t sorted correctly in October.

Dual Stream Service Notice

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

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

Recycling Violation Notice

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.

The common contaminants listed on the violation notice are:

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

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