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Zero Waste
Zero Waste

Recycle - Businesses

The District of Columbia requires recycling in all commercial properties or establishments. These include office buildings, houses of worship, retailers, warehouses, apartment buildings (with four or more units), cooperatives, condominiums, government buildings, bars and restaurants, non-profit organizations, schools, colleges and universities.

Black bags cannot be used to hold recyclables. Clear or non-pigmented plastic bin liners to hold clean and empty recyclables are allowed but not preferred.  Best Practice: Leave items loose in the container.  Learn More.

Mandatory Recycling Requirements

Supply an adequate number and size of containers to contain all recycling. Containers must be labeled with the hauler's name, phone number, and container size.

Recycling shall not overflow the container or be stored in paper or plastic bags outside of the container. Containers should be in good repair with tight-fitting lids.

Ensure the separate removal of recyclables by a hauler licensed with the Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection and registered with the Department of Public Works' Office of Waste Diversion. For a complete list of Solid Waste Collector's registered with DPW, click here

Remove recycling at least twice a week.

Post and maintain signage showing what to place in the recycling bin everywhere recycling is collected and stored.

Inform residens and occupants of the recycling requirements, what materials should be recycle, how and where the recycling is hauled. Provide a point of contact and information to call with questions.

Janitorial staff must be trained on the property's recycling program at least once each year.

Click Here for Tips and Resources on Recycling    

What Can I Recycle at Commercial Properties?

All District commercial properties are required to recycle the list of materials below. 



  • Cups & Containers
  • Flattened Cardboard
  • Milk, Juice, & Soup Cartons
  • Newspaper / Magazines
  • Books / Phone Books
  • Junk Mail & Office Paper
    (all items clean & empty)
    *No Tissues


  • Cups & Containers
  • Bottles & Lids
  • Bulky Items
    (all items clean & empty)
    *No Plastic Bags
    *No Foam Polystyrene
    *No Straws or Utensils


  • Steel & Aluminum
  • Bottles/Cans/Containers
    (all items clean & empty)
    *No Paint Cans


  • Bottles & Jars
    (all items clean & empty)
    *No Ceramics


For a comprehensive list of what can be recycled in the District, please refer to this list.

What Doesn't Belong in the Recycling Bin?

At this time, some materials should not be included in mixed recycling. However, this does not prohibit the recycling or composting of these materials through other means of collection and recovery. For the list of materials that should not go in the recycling but in the trash bin, please click here.

Certain materials should not go in the recycling OR trash bin. To learn how to dispose of special waste properly, please click here.