Zero Waste
Zero Waste

Questions on How to Dispose of Something in DC? There’s an App for That

Thursday, May 3, 2018
New App and Kids’ Game Take the Guesswork Out of Trash & Recycling

It’s not always easy remembering which items are recyclable, which items require scheduling a bulk pick-up, and which items are considered household hazardous waste. To take the guesswork out of waste disposal and recycling, the Department of Public Works (DPW) has created a new web app that allows residents to type in almost any item they can think of, after which they will be provided with information on how that item should be properly disposed of, recycled, reused or composted in the District.

“Since the web app first launched on April 10, more than 3,400 items have been searched,” said DPW Director Chris Shorter. “We recognize that people lead busy lives and that remembering what goes where may not be top of mind. That’s the beauty of this app—when you’re unsure, just ask the app.”

If an item isn’t available in the app, residents may suggest new items through the online tool. At the suggestion of residents, DPW has already added several items, including wine corks, electric toothbrushes, and frozen food bags. Of the items that have been searched, here are the top 5:

  1. Disposable batteries
  2. Plastic bags
  3. Pizza boxes
  4. Paper cups
  5. Plastic take-out containers

In addition to the app, DPW added a new recycling game for children on the District’s Zero Waste website. The game teaches kids how to properly sort common household items, such as milk cartons, by giving them five options: recycling bin, trash bin, bulk pick-up,* Fort Totten Transfer Station, or a composting food waste drop-off. Once the item is properly placed, the player advances to the next level.

As a reminder, information about waste, recycling, composting, and much more is available on the District’s Zero Waste website. The Zero Waste website was created in 2017 as a one-stop resource for DC residents, businesses, and visitors.

*DPW collects large, bulky items by appointment from residential households that receive DPW trash collection service. To make an appointment, please call the Mayor's Citywide Call Center at 311 or visit

DPW provides essential city services in two distinct program areas: environmental services/solid waste management and parking enforcement. Both contribute to making District streets and public spaces clean, safe, attractive and accessible for all residents, businesses, commuters and visitors.