Quick Recycling Guide

For Williamson County, TN

Recycling programs can vary by county, city, organization, or location. Please review these guidelines for recycling at Williamson County convenience centers, drop-off locations, Williamson County Schools, or at the Material Recovery Facility.

Click here for residential recycling locations in Williamson County.

Glass Jars & Bottles

  • Rinse bottle and discard lid.
  • Sort by color: clear, green/blue, and brown

Plastic - #1 through #7

  • Any plastic labeled with #1-7 recycling symbol, excluding foam (often labeled #6)
  • For plastic bottles, rinse bottle and keep on lid
  • Includes plastic bags and plastic film
    • Use stretch test to determine if film is recyclable. If you can stretch the plastic and poke a hole through it by pressing your finger, it is recyclable plastic.
    • Example: Plastic shopping bags, stretchy plastic wrapping
  • No foam - which includes disposable plates and cups, meat trays, egg cartons, carry-out containers
  • No foam peanuts


  • Please rinse items before recycling.
  • Aluminum cans
  • Aluminum foil
  • Aluminum disposable bakeware (pie pans, muffin tins, or lasagna dishes, etc.)
  • Foil yogurt tops
  • Even Hershey Kiss wrappers!
NO chip bags or Capri Sun pouches as these items are often a bonded combination of aluminum and plastic.

Mixed Paper

Paperboard Example
  • Computer or office paper
  • Everything received in your mail (plastic windows on envelopes are okay to recycle with paper)
  • Magazines
  • Newspapers
  • Cartons, including milk cartons
    • Rinse first.
  • Paperboard (see photo example to right)
    • Tear edge of box to determine if material is paperboard or cardboard. White fibers inside indicates paperboard that should be recycled as Mixed Paper. Brown fibers indicate cardboard and should be recycled with Corrugated Cardboard.

Mixed Cardboard

  • Includes corrugated cardboard boxes
  • Includes thin cardboard: cereal boxes, pasta boxes, cookie boxes, cracker boxes, etc. that tear brown
  • Includes cardboard egg cartons
  • Includes brown paper bags - these tear brown
  • Please flatten all items.
  • Please remove any foam or plastic packaging from cardboard.

Steel & Tin Cans

  • Please rinse.

Recycling Tips for Williamson County, TN Recycling

Tear Test

Do you know the difference between thin cardboard and paperboard?

They often look very similar! This is when the "tear test" comes in handy! Tear the edge of the thin box or bag in question.
  • If the fibers inside are brown, the material is cardboard and should be recycled in the mixed cardboard bin at the nearest county convenience center.
  • If the fibers inside are white, the material is paperboard and should be recycled in the mixed paper bin at the nearest county convenience center.

Stretch Test

How do you know if a plastic bag or film is recyclable?

Not all plastic bags/film come labeled with a recycling symbol. If you are questioning if you can recycle a plastic film, try the stretch test!
  • If you can easily stretch (or poke your finger) through a plastic bag or film, then it is recyclable with mixed plastic.
  • If the bag does not give, then it cannot be recycled.
  • Please only recycle clean plastic bags/film to avoid contaminating the recycling stream.


You have probably heard this word before, but what does "contamination" mean in the recycling world?

Contamination occurs when materials are put in the incorrect bin.
  • For example, if a bin is labeled "mixed paper only", putting a plastic bottle in that bin would be considered contamination. Although both materials are recyclable, the plastic bottle was sorted incorrectly.
  • This can cause problems with the recycling process, depending on the equipment and system in place. Always follow the recycling rules of the company/organization you are utilizing.
  • Contamination also occurs when trash is put in a recycling bin. This includes materials being recycled that were not suitable for the recycling stream (like a plate covered in food grease).

Reminder: These tips apply to Williamson County recycling. If you recycle curbside or with a private hauler, please check with your hauler for recycling guidelines.