CCDES is a member of the Illinois Recycling Contamination Task Force, a group that addresses pressing recycling issues throughout the state. To answer specific recycling questions, the task force has launched the Dirty Dozen Campaign.

At home or work when you are getting ready to recycle those everyday items, such cardboard, bottles, cans or jars, remember to throw away anything with food residue.

Cardboard – You can recycle cardboard, but cardboard with any food residue or grease is a no go. Put your greasy cardboard in the trash because that residue creates contamination in the paper recycling. Putting this type of cardboard in the recycling process can cause an issue for the entire load of cardboard.

Paper towels, plates & napkins – Innocent-looking paper smeared with food or grease cannot be processed with clean paper and can ruin a new product if not caught before the bale heads to the paper mill. Do not place these in the recycling bin.  

Liquids – Do I need to wash my bottles, cans & jars before placing them in the recycling bin?  No, just give your cans, bottles and jars a quick rinse. Leaving residue in these items causes issues inside your recycling bin and at the recycling center.  Nobody wants a sticky recycling bin or floor. 

Food –NO FOOD in the recycle bin. Any food you need to dispose of must be placed in the trash, down the garbage disposal (if your home has one) or composted. Composting is a process that breaks down food scraps and other organic materials into an earthy soil amendment. To start composting and for more information about composting, visit

Recyclable items can quickly become garbage when they carry the remnants of the food and other contaminants that they once held. 


  • Recycle Clean Cardboard – Nothing with Food Residue
  • Recycle Clean Paper – No napkins, paper plates, paper towels or tissues.
  • Start Composting – No food or liquid in the recycle bin.