Environmental Information

Below is a list of Frequently Asked Questions about environmental issues in our area. If you do not see your question answered below, please contact us and let us know how we can help. Thank you!

Where can I get a new trash can or cart?

The City of Cincinnati has issued large carts for trash collection to residents living in buildings with less than five units. Commercial buildings and residential buildings with five or more units are responsible for arranging their own trash collection through a service provider such as Rumpke. Only the garbage in your assigned cart will be collected on garbage day unless you make special arrangements with Public Services. In other words, you will not be able to set out additional garbage cans or bags as in previous years. This initiative will reduce the City’s operating expense and encourage more people to recycle. Additional details are available on the City of Cincinnati’s website.

If you live outside of the City or in a building with five or more units, you can purchase garbage cans or larger trash carts at home improvement stores or through your service provider. However, you should always check with your service provider before purchasing additional cans or carts to make sure you’re buying an approved container.

Where can I get a recycling cart?

If you live within the City of Cincinnati, you may be eligible for free recycling. Please visit www.cincinnatirecycles.org to find out how you can get a green cart and start recycling at your home!

If you live outside the City of Cincinnati, please check with your county or local waste hauler. Hamilton County has an impressive website full of helpful information including recycling drop off locations, programs for businesses, how to recycle in your community, how to handle hazardous waste, and plenty more. Visit www.hamiltoncountyrecycles.org to get started.

What can be recycled at the curb?

Rumpke is always improving their collection and sorting methods, so over the years you may have heard some conflicting information. Let’s clear up some of the myths! First, just because an item is “recyclable” doesn’t mean it can go in your bin or cart. Rumpke can only process a limited amount of recyclable material. Here is what Rumpke will take:

Plastic bottles and jugs

  • Any number is acceptable as long as it’s in jug form, meaning the opening is smaller than the rest of the container. You may also leave the lids ON.
  • Examples: water and pop bottles, shampoo bottles, salad dressing bottles, milk jugs, and laundry detergent containers
  • You CANNOT recycle butter or margarine tubs, whipped topping containers, yogurt containers, Styrofoam, plastic bags, food film, and plastic packaging. Some of these materials may be recycled through special collection programs, but they should not go in your recycling bin or cart.

Glass bottles and jars

  • Any number is acceptable, in any color, as long as the glass is a bottle or jar. Please remove the lid before recycling the glass.
  • Examples: beer and wine bottles, juice bottles, jelly jars, tomato sauce jars, and salsa jars.
  • You CANNOT recycle drinking glasses, light bulbs, baking dishes, dinnerware, window glass, and broken glass. Some of these materials may be recycled through special collection programs, but they should not go in your recycling bin or cart.

Aluminum and steel cans

  • All food related metal cans can go into your bin. No need to remove the label, but it’s a good idea to rinse out the food first.
  • Examples: soup cans, pop cans, tuna cans, beer cans, and empty aerosol cans (with tips removed).
  • You CANNOT recycle metal hangers, scrap metal, aluminum foil, and non-food or non-drink related metal. Some of these materials may be recycled through special collection programs, but they should not go in your recycling bin or cart.

Any type of paper

  • You can recycle all types of paper including paperboard, cardboard, and glossy cardstock. Clean pizza boxes are acceptable too!
  • Examples: newspapers and inserts, magazines, phone books, cereal boxes, junk mail, envelopes (with or without windows), office paper (with or without staples), and paper bags.
  • You CANNOT recycle bound books, paper plates, and napkins. Some of these materials may be recycled through special collection programs, but they should not go in your recycling bin or cart.


  • Residents are now able to include refrigerated and shelf-stable cartons — such as soup, milk, juice, soy and other beverage and food cartons — in their recycling containers for curbside collection.

Reuse or Throw Away — Do NOT put in your bin:

  • Yogurt cups
  • Plastic wrap
  • Plastic bags
  • Chip and snack bags
  • Styrofoam
  • Books
  • Aluminum foil
  • Paper plates & cups
  • Paper towels

For additional recycling information, visit www.rumpkerecycling.com or www.hamiltoncountyrecycles.org. You can also download Hamilton County’s Recycling Guide – click here!

Remember! Biodegradable does not necessarily mean recyclable. Products that are biodegradable are meant for compost bins or facilities. To learn more about composting, visit www.civicgardencenter.org or www.hamiltoncountyrecycles.org!

Where can I recycle computers, cell phones, household hazardous waste, etc?

Visit www.hamiltoncountyrecycles.org for information regarding special collections and household hazardous waste. You can also go to www.earth911.com to find recycling centers near you for items like batteries, e-waste, light bulbs, number five plastics, and more.

How do I report graffiti, litter, overgrown weeds, etc?

To file a service request or a complaint in the City of Cincinnati, go to 5916000.com or call the City of Cincinnati’s Customer Service Line at (513) 591-6000. Before reporting, make sure you have as much information as possible including the address of the offense. For additional information on blight issues and code violations, you can download our Community Action Guide. Contact the Building & Inspections Office at (513) 352-3275 for complaints about vacant residential buildings.

How can I get help cleaning up littered vacant lots?

We suggest partnering with your community council during the Great American Cleanup to clean up problem areas in your neighborhood. While we can offer the supplies and organizational focus point you would need, we do not have the capacity to clean up problem areas without the help of volunteers. To get connected with community organizers for the Great American Cleanup, call or e-mail Megan Beck at (513) 352-4517.

How can I volunteer?

Click here for a list of volunteer opportunities!

What is the Great American Cleanup?

The Great American Cleanup (or “GAC” as we call it) is basically a series of neighborhood-led cleanup events. You can organize an event with your neighbors or you can volunteer to help with an existing project! Click here to learn how you can get involved in the Great American Cleanup.

Find even more information from our partners and other local organizations:

Building Value

Center for Problem-Oriented Policing

City of Cincinnati Community Council Directory

City of Cincinnati Customer Service

Cincinnati Park Board

Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens

Civic Garden Center

Earth 911

Green Umbrella

Hamilton County Recycling & Solid Waste

Office of Environment & Sustainability

Public Services FAQs