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Garbage, Recycling, and Cart Care Tips

Download our brochure about garbage and recycling services (English) / (Spanish)

Garbage Tips

All garbage must be in bags. Do not place loose garbage in the cart.

  • Why? This helps prevent litter, helps to not attact wildlife, and helps keep our neighborhoods clean.
  • Bulky items that do not fit in the garbage cart and construction and demolition waste have separate guidelines.

Items Banned From Landfill

Wisconsin's Waste Reduction and Recycling Law bans certain items from landfill.

Do NOT place these items in your garbage cart for collection. Click for resources on how to properly dispose:

Recycling Tips

Recycling is required by State law and City ordinance. Learn more about Milwaukee's recycling program. Recyclables should be loose in the cart; don't bag them, please!

Accepted Items

Accepted items include aluminum and steel cans, food and beverage cartons, glass bottle and jars, cereal boxes, newspaper, magazines and mail, flattened cardboard, and paper tubes, and plastic kitchen, laundry, and bath bottles and containers. 

Unacceptable Items

Image of Contaminant Guidelines in Spanish

Know Before You Throw and When in Doubt, Throw it Out.

Here are a few items that are NOT accepted in your curbside recycling cart:

  • Plastic bags and wraps
  • Food and yard waste
  • Styrofoam & Plastic #3, #4, #6, & #7
  • Fire hazards (i.e. batteries, propane tanks)
  • Tanglers (i.e. hoses, wire, cords, etc.)
  • Needles and Sharps
  • Scrap metal (including car rotors)
  • Window glass, mirrors, and bulbs
  • Wood including furniture
  • Hazardous chemicals
  • Ceramics including dish ware and drinking glasses
  • Diapers

Cart Care and Replacement Policies

Carts are City of Milwaukee property. The following suggestions will help the cart have a long service life:

Preparing the Cart

  1. Write the address on the cart to help keep track of it, especially in tight alleys.
  2. Bag garbage before placing in the garbage cart. This helps deter wildlife and prevents litter in the neighborhood.
  3. Recyclables must not be bagged. Deter wildlife by rinsing food and beverage debris from recyclables.

Cleaning the Cart

  1. To clean the cart, pour dish soap in the bottom and fill with several gallons of water. Swish around the water to remove the majority of debris. Dry in the sun.
  2. To deodorize a cart after cleaning, use a mild bleach-water solution in a spray bottle. Lightly spray the inside of the cart and let it air dry.

Treating a Damaged Cart

  1. If wildlife puts a small hole in the cart, fill a sock with moth balls, tie it to the cart's handle, and feed it into the cart to deter animals from coming back.
  2. If a cart repair or replacement is needed, City crews will leave a tag on your cart with instructions on how to request this service. To limit the public investment in new cart inventory, a cart that is still serviceable will not be replaced. Rodent hole damage does not qualify for replacement. If you were instructed to request a new cart, call 414 286-CITY or use the online service request form.
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