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You’ve got recycling questions? We’ve got recycling answers!


We’ll do our best to post current, useful information on a variety of recycling and waste reduction topics. We want you to be in the know!


If you don’t see what you’re looking for, contact us with suggestions.

  • What is OHRD?
    Ozarks Headwaters Recycling and Materials Management District, also known as Solid Waste District O, is a quasi-government agency overseen by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. OHRD is one of 20 districts in Missouri, and District O’s region serves five counties in the southwest region of the state: Christian, Dallas, Greene, Polk and Webster. The primary function of OHRD is to fund solid waste diversion projects in its district through a grant reimbursement program. Since its inception, more than $4 million has been awarded to the community through waste diversion projects, like recycling, composting, and repurposing. The grant program is funded by tipping fees at the Springfield Noble Hill Sanitary Landfill.
  • Who qualifies for a grant?
    Businesses, nonprofits, NGOs and government agencies can apply for a grant with OHRD. The district can only fund waste diversion projects, so grantees cannot use OHRD funding to haul trash to the landfill. Our grant application process has grown more competitive as more entities have started new waste diversion projects. OHRD has recently updated its grantee qualifications. You can learn more about the criteria grantees must meet here.
  • How does OHRD decide which applicants receive grants?
    OHRD staff have no power to decide who is awarded a grant, or how much money a grantee receives. Those decisions are made by members of the grant evaluation committee, comprised of current and former board members, past grantees and community members. The evaluation committee meets after the grant application deadline to review each application and provides a score (out of 295 possible points); applications must receive a 70% score or higher to qualify. If the committee chooses, they can award only part of the requested funds for any applicant, regardless of an application’s score. (In other words, a grant application can get a perfect score but only receive half its requested funds). The scoring sheet the evaluation committee uses isn’t a secret; you can see criteria here.
  • How much money is available?
    The funds OHRD can award to the community varies from year to year, dictated by fluctuations in trash tipped in Springfield’s landfill. In 2020, the district was allotted $379,314 from MODNR; $409,153.62 in 2021; and $460,011 in 2022. We are projected to receive over $475,000 in 2023. OHRD policy states that no single grantee may receive more than $48,000 in funding in a given grant cycle.
  • Who's received grants in the past?
    Dozens of businesses, nonprofits, NGOs and government entities have received a grant from OHRD. You can see the full list of recipients here.
  • When do grantees get their money?
    The grant opens every fall and closes in December. After grant evaluation, funds are awarded every spring, typically in May. Funds are distributed on a reimbursement basis only.
  • Does recycling really do any good?
    Yes. Recycling keeps valuable commodities out of the landfill, where they would otherwise do nothing but take up space for hundreds of years. Recycling also creates jobs, benefits economies, conserves energy, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, reduces pollution and conserves natural resources. You may remember the Mantra “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” Note the order of these planet-healthy habits. Recycling comes last. This means environmentally conscious folks should use recycling as a tool for waste reduction only after reducing consumption and reusing what they already have. Recycling is not a one-and-done solution: We need to do much more than just recycle to keep the planet healthy.
  • Is recycling in the Ozarks mandatory?
    No. Nowhere in the Springfield Metro requires residents to recycle, but recycling is encouraged. If you want to recycle, you can either contact your trash hauler to get a recycling bin included in your curbside pickup subscription (which costs extra) or you can self-sort your own recycling by dropping it off at one of the recycling centers in the Ozarks (which is free, but donations are encouraged).
  • What can I recycle in the Ozarks?
    The list of recyclable items is huge! Here’s a non-comprehensive list: aluminum, cardboard and paper, glass, plastics #1, 2 and 5, packing materials, tin cans, brush, food waste, yard waste, medicine, building and construction materials, appliances, mattresses, light bulbs, furniture, household cleaners, farm machinery and lawn mowers, tires, computers, TVs, phones and batteries. We recommend using the City of Springfield Environmental Services’ “Recycling & Donation Locations” guide to learn where to take common items. The City also has a free, searchable database on its website.
  • Where does my recycling go?
    It depends. Local sorters like Computer Recycling Center or New American Recycling can contract with manufacturers, smelters, processors and consolidators in the Midwest or around the world. Some recyclers prioritize partnerships with mills in the region because shipping costs are usually cheaper when materials stay nearby. For example, New American Recycling—which receives self-sorted recycling at drop-off locations and curbside pick-up from Springfield haulers—sells to mills mostly in Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, Kansas and Texas. China’s “National Sword” ban on American recycling imports, implemented in early 2018, is still in effect. Now many U.S. recyclables are “ping-ponging across the globe” in Asian and Latin American countries (including but not limited to Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Mexico and El Salvador).
  • What is recycling contamination?
    Contamination describes a non-recyclable item—or the wrong recyclable item—that ends up in recycling streams. A banana peel tossed in with paper recycling or a tin can tossed in with glass recycling are both examples of contamination. Minimizing contamination is important because contaminants lower the value of the commodity.
  • Why do I have to pay to recycle my mattress?
    BedHead Mattress Recycling, an OHRD grantee, has options for responsible disposal for mattresses. They charge $15 per mattress or box spring. This charge ensures the materials are recycled responsibly.
  • Why do I have to pay to recycle my TV?
    You can take TVs and other electronics to the Computer Recycling Center in Springfield. CRC is an OHRD grantee, and they charge $30 for all types of TVs. This charge comes from the negative value of the TV’s materials. The CRC only charges the customer to recycle an item when the cost to process it is greater than the material is worth. In other words, once electronics have been categorized, sorted and dismantled, they sometimes hold negative value. The center must pay for other companies to take the materials and recycle them. Find out more about recycling charges in OHRD’s blogpost.
  • Can I recycle aerosol cans?
    Yes. Check the City’s “Recycling and Donations Locations” handout for a list of places that accept metals. Recycling centers like Lone Pine or Franklin Avenue are NOT accepting aerosol cans. Use up the product when possible because recyclers can only accept empty cans. Full or partially full products should go to the Household Chemical Collection Center in Grant Beach Neighborhood in Springfield. Head to its website to schedule an appointment.
  • Can I recycle batteries?
    Yes. Always recycle batteries because they contain hazardous chemicals and corrosive materials that can harm the environment if they are landfilled. However, you can’t just toss batteries in the curbside bin. Batteries of all sizes, from the one in your smartphone to the one in your car, are highly recyclable—sometimes as high as 99%. You can take batteries to the Computer Recycling Center in Springfield.
  • Can I recycle candles?
    No. Candle wax isn’t recyclable, but the glass or metal containers they come in often are. Just make sure you remove leftover wax before dropping jars and tins in with your other recyclables. Try melting, freezing or using a metal spoon to remove wax. You can also try heating candles in a pot of water on the stove and transfer melted wax to a different jar with a new wick. If neither of these options work, the candle is landfill waste.
  • Can I recycle coffee cups?
    No. Single use paper cups like the ones you get to-go at a cafe are not recyclable. Because manufacturers often create cups from a blend of paper and plastic to keep the container from leaking, recyclers can’t separate the two materials. As a result, the item is landfill waste. Most of the time the plastic lid and paperboard sleeve ARE recyclable because they aren’t mixed materials. But be sure to rinse off food containers before tossing them in with other recycling.
  • Can I recycle glass?
    Yes. Glass is highly recyclable—it can be recycled over and over again without a loss in quality. Springfield trash haulers can’t pick up glass in curbside recycling because of concerns with broken glass contaminating other recyclables. Instead, drop your glass off at Lone Pine or Franklin Avenue recycling centers in Springfield. Read more on glass recycling on the Recycle417 blog.
  • Can I recycle leaves and yard waste?
    Yes, except when we recycle organic materials, we call it composting! Don’t toss your lawn trimmings in the trash or in with curbside recycling. Instead, they need to go to the Yardwaste Recycling Center in Brookline, MO. The YRC accepts grass clippings, leaves, hedge trimmings and garden vegetation at no charge. Don’t try to compost trash or rocks. Learn more about yard waste recycling on the Recycle417 blog.
  • Can I recycle mattresses?
    Mattresses can be recycled in the Ozarks for a small fee. If your mattress is in good condition, it’s a good idea to check with local second-hand stores, such as Habitat for Humanity or Blind Community Thrift Store, for donation options. Recycling centers at Lone Pine and Franklin Avenue both take mattresses for a fee to cover the cost of recycling. BedHead Mattress & Carpet Pad Recycling also takes mattresses for a fee.
  • Can I recycle metals?
    Yes. Metal packaging, like food tins or aluminum soda cans, are accepted at Springfield’s recycling centers. But you can also recycle larger quantities of metal, like bicycles or lawn mowers, at metal scrap yards like McCoy Metal, Springfield Iron & Metal, and CMC Recycling.
  • Can I recycle paint?
    No. It’s possible to recycle latex and oil paints, but there aren’t widespread paint recycling programs in Missouri yet. Extended producer responsibility legislation for paints is expected to be introduced in the Missouri General Assembly next session. Until then, OHRD recommends filling leftover latex paint with cat litter or a paint hardener to absorb everything in the container. What’s leftover is landfill waste. Oil-based paints can be dropped off at the Household Chemical Collection Center near Kansas and Chestnut Expressways in Springfield. The HCCC is by appointment only.
  • Can I recycle paper?
    Yes. Most paper and paperboard products are recyclable. We encourage residents to gather newspapers, junk mail, printer paper and paper products and drop them off at local recycling centers. A 2016 statewide landfill composition study found that paper takes up about a quarter of landfill space in Missouri! An ordinary piece of paper can be recycled between five and seven times before it is landfill waste.
  • Can I recycle pharmaceuticals?
    No, but there are safe ways to dispose of prescription drugs. In 2020 the Missouri Product Stewardship Council created a statewide interactive map so users can easily find pharmaceutical drop-off locations near them. Do not flush drugs down the drain, and don’t toss them in the trash can. Find out more about responsible pharmaceutical disposal on the OHRD blog.
  • Can I recycle pizza boxes?
    It depends. Even though most pizza boxes are made of recyclable cardboard or paperboard, any residual food or grease contaminates them. Recycling centers require all materials to be clean, dry and free of food scraps. Try reusing a pizza box lid as a drop cloth for an art project before tossing it in the trash.
  • Can I recycle plastic?
    Yes. Plastics with resin codes #1, 2 and 5 are accepted at Springfield’s recycling centers. You can recycle plastic grocery bags at many area grocery stores, too. All other plastic types are landfill waste. Don’t toss plastic grocery bags in curbside recycling bins or at city recycling centers.
  • Can I recycle plastic bottle caps?
    Yes. Lids can be recycled, but not on their own. Keep the lid on the bottle when you recycle them as they are too small to recycle by themselves. Sorting and baling machines can’t catch loose bottle caps on their own. As always, make sure all recycling is dry and free of food residue.
  • Can I recycle plastic grocery bags?
    Yes, but they can’t go in curbside recycling or dropped off with other plastics at recycling centers like Lone Pine or Franklin Avenue in Springfield. Thin plastic can damage the sorting machinery used at area recyclers. OHRD recommends finding ways to reuse grocery bags or drop them off at a grocery store chain that accepts bags for recycling.
  • Can I recycle single-use wipes and tissues?
    No. Tissues, wipes and paper towels are too small and light to be processed properly at Ozarks recyclers. Plus, used wipes are often covered with soot, food or other dirt, which means it can’t be recycled. Recyclers can only accept clean, dry paper that’s free of grease or stains. The best bet is to use fewer single-use products when possible. Consider swapping to reusable rags instead of sanitizing wipes, or blow your nose with a handkerchief instead of a tissue. Don’t flush sanitizing wipes or baby wipes as they can clog pipes and cause damage.
  • Can I recycle Styrofoam?
    No. Some Styrofoam is possible to recycle (most common uses include insulation and packing products). However, there aren’t many places that do it. Unfortunately, no recyclers in the Ozarks can take Styrofoam. Containers like to-go coffee cups and takeout clamshells are landfill waste. The best option is to reduce the amount of Styrofoam you use when possible. Consider bringing your own coffee cup or reusable container when you go out to eat.
  • Can I recycle take-out containers?
    It depends. Paper based food containers, like the ones that hold your burger and fries in the drive-thru, aren’t recyclable most of the time because of grease stains. Plastic-based food containers with resin codes #1, #2 and #5 can be recycled. Like always, make sure the containers are free of any food residue before tossing them in with curbside recycling or dropping them off at a local recycling center.
  • Can I recycle ...
    Looking for recycling options for something not listed here? Try the City of Springfield’s Waste Wizard, a free, searchable database for recycling, composting and donating opportunities in the area. You can also contact OHRD at: 417-686-4197
  • What is waste diversion?
    Waste diversion describes the act of keeping materials out of the landfill. There are lots of ways we can divert waste. You might have heard of the mantra: “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” but we can also Rethink, Refuse, Repurpose, Recruit, and Rot (compost) to make sure the only things that end up in our landfill are materials for which we don’t have a better use. Waste diversion can also mean preventing waste at the source, like packaging products in less plastic or growing only as much crops as we can eat.
  • Why should I care about keeping things out of the landfill?
    Outside of caring about a healthy planet, we should care about keeping things out of the landfill when possible because diversion is a solution for landfill longevity. Once a landfill fills up, it’s full forever. Trash generated in the Springfield metro area will likely end up at the City of Springfield Noble Hill Sanitary Landfill, located north of town. Noble Hill is projected to reach capacity in 50-75 years. Since it’s not likely another landfill will open in that time, Ozarks residents can expect disposal costs will go up as the next nearest landfill is around 100 miles away. In total, waste diversion is about the health of the environment, the longevity of existing landfills and your pocketbook.
  • What is our landfill like?
    The City of Springfield Noble Hill Sanitary Landfill is a 1,200 acre space located northwest of town, but only about 200 acres of it is used as waste disposal cells. Between 1,200 and 1,600 tons of materials enter the landfill every day. Paper, food waste, plastic and wood make up some of the most prevalent materials in the landfill. You can see photos of OHRD’s October landfill tour on our blog
  • What do I do with food waste?
    OHRD recommends composting food waste. You can start a compost pile in your backyard, use a compost barrel on a patio or balcony, or send your food waste to be composted through Springfield Compost Collective, an OHRD grantee. It’s also a good idea to rethink the ways you interact with food, too, and look for ways to reduce the amount of waste you generate. We have a blogpost about food waste reduction here.
  • What do I do with electronic waste?
    Donating electronics you no longer want is the best option. The Ozarks has plenty of thrift and secondhand stores that can help your electronics find a new home. This keeps materials out of the landfill by giving them another use. OHRD recommends dropping off electronics that can’t be donated to the Computer Recycling Center, an OHRD grantee. Never throw electronics in the trash as they can leach toxins and sometimes catch fire.
  • What is greenwashing?
    Greenwashing is a dishonest marketing strategy that aims to deceive consumers about the sustainability or “green-ness” of a product or service. Vague package labels or a lack of transparency about ingredients or impact might be signs of greenwashing. OHRD’s advice is to be a little skeptical of products that use tree and leaf motifs or buzzwords like “all-natural” and “100% organic” without backing up their claims.
  • What's the difference between compostable and biodegradable?
    Biodegradable materials are ones made from organic (living) things. Leaves, hair and fur, grass clippings and food waste all count as biodegradable. Paper products like paper plates or napkins count, too. Biodegradable materials break down naturally, and in the right conditions, will decompose in a few weeks. Compostable, on the other hand, describes materials made from a blend of organic and inorganic things. Compostable products are designed to break down in composting conditions, but they can take much longer to do so and still contain some plastic. We talk more about biodegradable and compostable products in this blogpost.
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