how to get a free recycling bin
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How to Get a Free Recycling Bin From Your City

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Dec. 2 2020, Published 5:33 p.m. ET

It’s something that many people take for granted, but not everyone has access to something as simple as a recycling bin. These bins allow average citizens to do their part towards lowering their environmental impact. Aluminum cans, plastics, glass, and cardboard are all recyclable, but they will end up in the trash if you don't have that simple, sturdy, plastic bin. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to get a free recycling bin — and most of them are just a phone call away. 

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how to get a free recycling bin
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How can I get a free recycling bin?

The simplest solution to not having a recycling bin is to just ask for one. Now, before you go running down the street asking every Tom, Dick, and Harry for a free recycling bin, you might want to learn a bit more. You could always buy a recycling bin, of course. Many people do. But why would you? Especially not when many local or governmental programs will actually give you a recycling bin if you ask for one. 

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There are a few caveats to these free bins, however, many of which involve the different recycling programs offered by a government or private entity. 

In most cases, you need to be a resident of an area in order to get a free bin, and that is only for places where curbside pickup is provided. Private communities or those without a dedicated sanitation department may hire out the work of private waste haulers. In these cases, the bin may be free, but the monthly dues spent on recycling pickup is not. In both cases though, mandatory recycling is not always enforced or provided.

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how to get a free recycling bin
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How do I check if my area has a recycling program?

The first step to finding out about a free recycling bin is calling your town or local sanitation department to see if recycling is part of their normal practices. This being the 21st century, it’s a good bet to assume that most communities have some sort of recycling program. Even a check on your municipality's website should reveal whether or not your area has a program. It’s also important to find out when recycling goes out and which items are collected on which days. 

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Some towns require different bins for different recyclables — one for glass, one for plastic, one for paper or cardboard, and one for metals — while others do commingled recycling. Local governments might have different days for bulk pickup or electronic waste recycling, too. 

Getting the right information is key, and there are many websites that will allow you to quickly find information about the programs in your area. 

how to get a free recycling bin
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Who do I ask about my free recycling bin?

After much research, you’ve finally got the details and contact information for your town’s recycling program. The next step is the simplest one of all — calling them and asking about how you can get your own free recycling bin. You might even be able to make the request for a bin through the online portal, but if you’re unsure, a phone call can often prove more illuminating. This will also put you on more personal terms with the people at your local recycling or sanitation department, and that is never a bad thing. 

What if my recycling services aren’t free?

If free recycling services aren't available to you or if your community has a different type of program, you may have to purchase or otherwise procure your own recycling bin. In these scenarios, you might even have to collect your own recycling and drop it off at a designated location in your community. Note that some people who pay for waste management or recycling pickup services may also receive a “free” bin as soon as they sign up.

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how to get a free recycling bin
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Where can I get a recycling bin if I can’t get it for free?

If you’re still unable to get a free bin from your government, there are plenty of places online where you can find them. Online groups like Craigslist, Nextdoor, Facebook Marketplace, and Buy Nothing groups are perfect places to advertise that you’re looking for a recycling bin. You might even find some listed before you post. There are more than a few homeowners trying to get rid of their excess recycling bins for free. 

If you have to buy one on your own, look at home improvement stores like Lowe's, Home Depot, or your local hardware store. They’ll only set you back about $10 or $20 at the most. Worst case scenario, you can always draw the recycling symbol or the word “recycling” on a box and put it out on recycling day. It might get you enough attention from the sanitation workers that they’ll bring you a bin next time around — you never know. 

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