Featured Waste

How to Handle Hard-to-Recycle Materials

Below you will find a collection of resources to help you navigate places in St. Louis that take specific types of materials for reuse, repurposing, or in some cases, recycling.

What to do with university-owned “stuff”

Before you get too far along, please note that there are specific ways to manage materials that are generated through university operations or are owned by the university. Check out this resource for hazardous and nonstandard materials that we frequently field questions about:

Hazardous & Nonstandard Materials | Sustainability | Washington University in St. Louis

Residential Recycling 

For all your personal non-standard materials, or if you want to go above-and-beyond when managing waste from your office or storage space, here are some excellent resources that make up the dynamic ecosystem of reuse, repair, repurpose, and recycling in our region! Keep in mind, many of these avenues create jobs, fuel the creative reuse and crafts sector, and provide materials to people in need.

Saint Louis City Recycles 

Saint Louis City Recycles offers the “Recycle Beyond Your Blue Bin” database that informs you of what items can and cannot be recycled in your standard residential recycling bin. It also allows you to type in your zip code and find organizations near you that are able to recycle or repurpose the non-standard items. 

Some examples of materials that don’t belong in your residential recycling bin but may have an alternative option to the landfill include: 

  • Automotive: anti-freeze, auto parts, bike tires, brake fluid, car batteries, engine degreasers, hydraulic fluid, motor oil, radiators, road flares, tires, transmission fluid 
  • Batteries (rechargable batteries of all types, and anything but alkaline disposable batteries.)
  • Construction materials: brick, carpet, ceiling/ceramic tiles, concrete, construction debris, drywall, flooring, light fixtures, lumber, mattresses, office furniture, paint, pvc pipe, shingles, wood & wood furnishings 
  • Electronics: audio equipment, boomboxes, cables, calculators, cell phone accessories, curling irons, digital camera, game consoles, ink cartridges, medical equipment, microwaves, office machines, power tools, projectors, record players, scanners, small appliances, cell phones, vacuums 
  • Garden: Christmas trees, compost, plastic hanging baskets 
  • Home Supplies: Aerosol cans, animal/pet supplies, arts and crafts, baby products, beads, bicycles, carpet, carpet padding, cookware, eyeglasses, glue sticks, hair spray, hair dye, jewelry, lighter fluid, metal clothes hangers, nail polish, pantyhose, ornaments, packing/shipping supplies, plastic buckets, shoes 

Try the St. Louis Recycles database to find where you can take the materials above for reuse or safe disposal.

Local Agencies Accepting Donations 

Whenever you are donating to a local non-profit or reuse project, help them keep their process profitable or extend their limited non-profit dollars by being a mindful and respectful donor! Keep these tips in mind:

  • Only donate types of items or materials that the organization has requested or approved 
  • If a condition is specified, respect the parameters 
  • Don’t drop donations and run – only drop off items at the designated place, during designated times

Check out this spreadsheet to get a sense of different organizations that may be accepting specific types of materials. Here are some other organizations complied by earthday365.

COMMON Materials Management by Category 

Clothing & Textiles 

Skincare, makeup, hygiene etc. 

Office/Art Supplies 

Furniture, Appliances, Flooring etc.  


Food Composting 

If you’ve made it this far in our article, you probably already acknowledge that there is no “away” just because we package things up and send them to the landfill. Taking additional effort to engage in responsible materials management reminds us of the value of materials and will hopefully inspire us to create less waste in the first place by consuming less.