Bradenton Recycling Dos and Don’ts: Important Facts You Need to Know

Many Manatee County residents are making critical mistakes when it comes to recycling efforts. Learn the important dos and don'ts!
Recycling in Bradenton

Did you know that the average American generates over four pounds of trash every day?! This equates to 1.5 tons of solid waste every year.

Are you doing your part to reduce your impact on the environment? Recycling is one of the easiest ways to do this, yet many Manatee County residents don’t recycle as much as they should, or they do it incorrectly, causing problems that can affect not only their recycling efforts but the efforts of others as well.

Don’t worry, we’re here to clear up the confusion and help you recycle right!

City of Bradenton vs. Manatee County

First things first, it’s important to understand who handles your recycling. Depending on where you live, you may fall under the jurisdiction of the City of Bradenton or Manatee County.

Both currently use a single-stream recycling system. This means that all recyclable materials are collected in one bin, eliminating the need to separate your items. Once they’re collected, they’re brought to a materials recycling facility, where they are separated for re-use.

Common Recycling Mistakes

Aside from not recycling at all, the most common mistake people make is recycling the wrong things. It’s easy to think that since something feels like cardboard, plastic, metal, or paper then it must be recyclable. Unfortunately, this is not true. For example, paper plates and pizza boxes are not recyclable, even though they’re made of paper and cardboard.

Putting the wrong things in your recycling bin can contaminate the rest of the collection and/or damage the machinery. If you want to do your part, take a moment to learn what is and is not recyclable.

Worried you won’t remember? There’s a handy sticker right on top of your recycling bin. Make sure to double-check before you toss items in and when in doubt, throw it out.

Items You CAN Recycle

There are FIVE things that you can recycle in Bradenton and Manatee County:

  • Aluminum and steel cans
  • Food and beverage cartons
  • Glass bottles and jars
  • Paper and cardboard
  • Plastic bottles and containers

Here are a few of the specific items that are absolutely fine to put in your recycle bin:

  • Aluminum cans
  • Aluminum pie pans
  • Brown paper bags
  • Coffee cans
  • Junk mail
  • Liquor bottles
  • Newspaper
  • Magazines
  • Phone books
  • Plastic window envelopes
  • Shampoo bottles
  • Yogurt containers

Before placing your items in the recycling bin, you should empty them, rinse them out, and replace the cap if you still have it. Also make sure to flatten cardboard and boxes. Otherwise, they take up valuable space.

Never put your recyclables in plastic bags. Make sure they’re loose inside your recycling bin.

Items You CANNOT Recycle

Now this is where things get really interesting. We’re willing to bet there are at least a few items on this list that make you think twice. The following items are not recyclable and do not belong in your recycling bin:

  • Aluminum foil
  • Baking pans & deli trays
  • Broken glass
  • Cellophane
  • Ceramics, dishes, pottery
  • Clothes hangers
  • Clothing, shoes, or accessories
  • Coffee pots
  • Diapers
  • Drinking glasses
  • Eyeglasses
  • Flower pots
  • Kitchen utensils & appliances
  • Paper plates, paper towels
  • Pots and pans
  • Gift wrap
  • Food wrap, sandwich bags
  • Pizza boxes
  • PVC or Styrofoam
  • Pools or coolers
  • Packing peanuts
  • Shredded paper
  • Take-out boxes
  • Tissues or tissue paper
  • Tools or auto parts
  • Toys
  • Wet cardboard
  • Windows, mirrors, or light bulbs

It’s also important to never put plastic grocery bags in your recycling bin. They get wrapped up in the equipment, causing damage and delaying the recycling process. However, this doesn’t mean they’re not recyclable! Most grocery stores have bag collection bins in their lobby. So, next time you’re heading out to Publix or your favorite store, bring that bag full of bags with you!

A Word About Your Recycling Carts

It’s worth noting that your recycling carts should be used for recycling only. Both the city and the county request that you not use the recycling bins for trash or yard waste.

When you place your cart out on the curb, make sure the arrow on the cart is facing towards the street. Also place it at least 3 feet away from parked cars, utility poles, mailboxes, fire hydrants, shrubs or low-hanging trees, and other carts. This will ensure that the recycling trucks can easily access it.

Disposing of Special Items

There are some items, like appliances, hazardous waste, e-scrap, and yard waste that can’t go in the garbage or in the recycling bin — so what do you do with them?

Large Appliances

The state of Florida has banned “white goods” (large appliances) from landfills. This includes:

  • Refrigerators
  • Air conditioners
  • Dryers
  • Stoves
  • Washing machines
  • Freezers
  • Water heaters
  • Pool heaters

If you have an appliance you need to get rid of, call Manatee County Utilities Customer Service at 941-792-8811 or the City of Bradenton Solid Waste Department at 941-708-6340.

Hazardous Waste

Items that are labeled as flammable, toxic, corrosive, or dangerous are considered “household hazardous waste.” This includes:

  • Paint
  • Solvent
  • Motor oil
  • Oil filters
  • Household chemicals
  • Pesticides
  • Fertilizers
  • Ammunition
  • Antifreeze
  • Car batteries
  • Propane tanks
  • Fire extinguishers

You should never place these items by the curb. Instead, you can drop them off for free at the Lena Road Landfill on the third Saturday of every month between 9 am and 3 pm.


“E-scrap” is a catch-all term for unwanted consumer electronic equipment. These need special attention since they often contain hazardous materials like mercury, lead, arsenic, and cadmium.

You can bring your e-scrap to the Lena Road Landfill along with your hazardous waste on the third Saturday of the month. If Manatee County handles your solid waste pickup you can also place your e-scrap at the curb, but it will cost you $17.31. You’ll need to call Manatee County Utilities Customer Service (941-792-8811) to schedule your pickup.

Yard Waste

Both the City of Bradenton and Manatee County pick up yard waste once a week. Make sure you put your yard waste out by 6 am on your pickup day. It should be placed no more than 3 feet from the road.

Most residents choose to put their yard waste in a 32-gallon trash can. If you do, make sure the yard waste doesn’t come up above the top of the can. You may also use a sturdy 30-gallon trash bag.

If you have branches or shrubbery, you can create bundles and put them by the side of the road. Bundles should be no longer than 4-feet in length and branches must be smaller than 6 inches in diameter (cut larger branches in half length-wise). Always tie your bundles together with heavy-duty string.

Whether you use a trash can, bag, or bundles, make sure that each item weighs no more than 50 pounds.

If you have too much yard waste to bundle, you can take it to the Lena Road Landfill or call Manatee County Utilities Service to request and “extraordinary collection service.”

Reduce and Repurpose

If you really want to make a difference, adopt the mindset that putting items into both the trash and recycling should be a last resort. Instead, look for ways to reduce the amount of waste you create. Simple changes, like using resuable grocery bags and water bottles, can make a big difference.

Whenever you can, repurpose or donate unwanted items. There are many local thrift stores that will happily accept your gently used clothing, shoes, accessories, toys, decor, furniture, and more. (Check out this handy list of 5 Bradenton Locations to Donate Your Gently Used Items.)

You can also bring your clean clothes, shoes, linens, and accessories to the Lena Road Landfill for recycling Monday through Saturday from 8 am until 5 pm.

Start Recycling Right Today!

Now that you know the ins and outs of proper recycling in Bradenton, you’re ready to start making a difference! Want to do even more? Share this post. The more local residents who understand the rules, the better off we’ll all be!

Need more information about trash pick-up and recycling? Visit the City of Bradenton website or call 941-708-6340. Manatee County Utilities customers can visit their website or call 941-708-6340.

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