Do’s and don’ts of municipal recycling

GROSSE POINTE PARK — One wrong thing in a recycling bin risks the pickup being passed by.

The contractor handling Grosse Pointe Park’s recycling service collects two large trucks of material per day or 10 each week.

Individual garbage trucks can pack 30,000 pounds, meaning total weekly collection in the Park could hit 300,000 pounds.

At such a pace, pickup crews can’t dwell on niceties. They collect, move on and continue doing so bin-by-bin until something such as a used pizza box knocks the process off kilter.

“Crews aren’t going to pick through bins,” said Tom Perry, Park public works superintendent. “If they see it’s contaminated, they won’t take the whole thing.”

The high cost of gasoline further provokes the contractor not to dally.

“They can’t have a truck sitting there idling while the guys pick through what can and can’t be taken out of your recycling,” Perry said.

Even if a pizza box is clear of residual food, its placement in a recycling bin is supposed to prompt the contractor to move on.

“A pizza box has oil in it,” Perry said. “It’s considered contaminated disposal.”

A link on the city website,, for public service “waste collection and recycling information” lists do’s and don’ts of the city’s recycling contractor, Green For Life Environmental.

“People get upset because they don’t know what they can or can’t do,” Perry said. “We get phone calls from people asking what they can put out in the garbage or recycling.”

In addition to common sense don’ts — syringes, hypodermic needles and medical waste — there are a few left curves.

“They will not recycle plastic bags from a grocery store,” Perry said. “Take those back to the store from now on.”

The prohibition has to do with plastic bags tangling sorting equipment and taking practically forever to degrade in landfills.

“To facilitate even more recycling, Kroger continues to offer customers the option to bring certain types of plastic films to the store for recycling by different partners,” according to a notice at “Customers can drop off single-use plastic grocery shopping bags, dry cleaning bags, newspaper sleeves, produce bags, bread bags, plastic cereal box liners, multi-pack case overwraps and more.”

Styrofoam tops the list of items Green For Life won’t recycle.

“They’ll accept take-out food containers unless they’re Styrofoam,” Perry said. “Rinse out food containers before putting them in the recycling bin.”

Given the status of pizza boxes, it’s no surprise motor oil containers are considered hazardous waste; not recyclable. So are computer monitors, televisions and similar electronic components.

“They have metals inside, some precious metals and some contaminated metals,” Perry said.

Batteries are a no. They should be discarded during hazardous waste collection day.

Grosse Pointe’s 2022 household hazardous waste drop-off day came and went in April, but Park residents needing help can call the city environmental hazardous waste hotline at (313) 923-2240 for assistance, according to the municipal website.

Also unacceptable are wire hangers, paper milk and juice cartons, automotive parts, aerosol cans, paint cans and cans of paint; and tanks used for propane, oxygen or helium.


Acceptable materials include, according to the website, cardboard, paper bags, junk mail, phone books, newspapers, steel and tin cans, clear and colored glass, kitchen cookware, aluminum cans, plastic bottles and household plastic.

Metals can be set out for recycling, but odds are they won’t be there when the contractor rolls around.

“Scrappers usually take the metals, but GFL will take metal if it’s still there,” Perry said.

Sean Cotton, Owner & Publisher

Jody McVeigh, Editor in chief


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