Missoula Recycling Guide

Missoula is a forward-thinking community, and hardly do you hear someone in Missoula ask, “Do you recycle?” More often the question is, “Where is your recycling?” However, the recycling business in Missoula still a growing one, and it may not be explicitly clear what can and cannot be recycled in this Garden City of ours. Below is your Make It Missoula Recycling Guide, including what is recyclable and what service options you have for both at-home pick-up or drop-off recycling.

First, Why Even Recycle?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average person creates around four-and-a-half pounds of trash every day, or about 1.5 tons in a year! The EPA also estimates that of the solid waste people throw away, 75 percent of it is recyclable, even though only about a third of it actually is recycled. We can do better!

By both recycling as much as we can and choosing to buy recycled products when we can, we reduce the need for raw materials for new products and save energy. Imagine this – just producing one ton of aluminum requires 4.5 tons of aluminum ore and over a 1,000 pounds of fuel. By using recycled aluminum to produce new aluminum, we reduce raw material requirements by 95 percent and energy requirements by 90 percent. And there is no limit to the number of times aluminum can be recycled into new aluminum. Contrast this by the fact that in the United States, more than 100 million aluminum cans are sent to landfills every day!

In addition, Missoula has announced a goal of becoming Montana’s first zero-waste community. You can learn more at the website zerobyfiftymissoula.com.

*Video created by Kevin Radley

What Can I Recycle in Missoula?

In Missoula, you can recycle the following materials:

  • Aluminum cans
  • Glass
  • Steel/tin cans (rinsed)
  • Metal jar lids
  • Metal bottle caps
  • Plastics #1, #2 and #3 (no lids)
  • Styrofoam packing peanuts (clean, reusable and separately bagged)
  • Newspaper
  • Office paper (no bright colors)
  • Magazines
  • Junk mail
  • Shredded paper (bagged, no bright colors)
  • Non-corrugated cardboard (i.e. cereal boxes, six-packs, egg cartons)
  • Paper bags
  • Phone books

Where Can I Recycle?

In Missoula we have the luxury of arranging either curbside pick-up for our recyclables or taking them to a recycling center.

Curbside Pick-up

Recycling Works – Is a curbside recycling service for glass and green waste — the two items not picked up by Republic’s “All-In-One” service.   Recycling Works has built the only glass transfer station in Western Montana to service Missoula residents.   All profits go to charity.  Call 406 303-1913

Garden City Recycling – Founded in 2010, Garden City Recycling is Missoula’s newest recycling service provider. It was founded as simple, inexpensive curbside recycling service for residents and businesses in Missoula and the surrounding areas. Cost is based on volume, and it can be as low as $20 per month for two pick-ups. Pick-up days are dependent on where you live, and Garden City Recycling even offers special pick-up services for CPUs, ink cartridges, scrap metals, junk cars, auto batteries and other hard-to-recycle items. Call (406) 493-1528.

Republic Services – This is a recycling program rolling out throughout the city of Missoula. Many Republic Services customers can sign up for the new curb side bins. They have a yellow or blue lid, and you just fill it with approved items and roll it to your curb every other week on your designated day. You can use them to recycle clean aluminum cans, tin cans, many types of plastics, newspaper, magazines, phone books and other clean paper products. Cost is about $13/month added to your trash collection bill. Call (406) 543-3157.

Drop-Off Recycling

Pacific Steel & Recycling – Located at 2600 Latimer (one block behind Target), Pacific Steel & Recycling will accept all of Missoula’s standard recyclables in its designated bins. Customers are responsible for properly sorting their materials and placing them in corresponding marked bins. Pacific Steel & Recycling will also pay you for various recyclable metals. Prices change, and this service is only available during business hours. Recycling bins are accessible 24/7. Pacific Steel & Recycling can also assist with recycling odd items, such as deer, elk, and moose hides and antlers; brass, radiators, lead, stainless steel, copper, appliances, aluminum scrap, sheet metal, automobiles, prepared iron, unprepared iron, cast iron and engines. Call (406) 543-7396.

Axmen Recycling is located at 9775 Summit Dr. accepts items for recycling from 8:30am-5pm Monday-Friday. All recycling yards are held to certain standards in regards to the disposal of hazardous waste; however Axmen Recycling has taken this one step further. The average recycling yard requests that cars are drained of all fluids before they will purchase them from a consumer, or will pay less for the car if it is not drained. Axmen Recycling insists that you do not drain any fluids from vehicles that are going to be recycled, and they don’t pay you more for doing so. They want to know that the fluids are being drained and disposed of responsibly, rather than risking these hazardous materials are being introduced into the environment. Their prices remain competitive and consumers are happy to know that they have a safe, efficient, and economical way to dispose of junk vehicles. Call (406) 543-1905.

Organic Waste – Curbside Compost Pickup
Tired of throwing away food scraps into the garbage only to have them rot into a stinky mess in the landfill? It is estimated that yard and food waste alone make up 28% of our Missoula landfill. This means that nearly a third of waste dumped into our local landfill is organic, compostable material. Now you can subscribe to compost pickup. There are two companies that started up in 2019 to service this need.

Missoula Compost Collection, LLC

They offer Residential and Commercial compost pickup. You are given a 10 gallon green bucket to store your material. You can throw in all sorts of things, including food scraps, coffee grounds, eggs, compostable takeout containers, pizza boxes, lawn clippings, leaves, even meat and dairy! The cost is only $15/month for curbside pickup.

Soil Cycle
This company also does compost pickup but with a twist. They come to your home via bicycle in order to further reduce carbon emissions as they carry out their mission. Because of this, their service area is somewhat more limited, so contact them to see if your home can be served. While this service costs a bit more ($20/month) as a subscriber, you get fresh, cured compost (soil) returned to you 3 times per year.

Residential and Commercial Glass Recycling

Glass recycling in Missoula has finally arrived, with an $80,000 infrastructure investment into transport and Western Montana’s only commercial-scale glass transfer station.  Recycling Works offers curbside pickup of glass for Missoula Residents and Quarterly drop-off events for occasional recyclers and out of town residents.   The company also offers commercial pickup for the town’s best Missoula bars and restaurants.

Glass Re-Use 

Bayern Brewing
You can bring certain types of beer bottles (only) to Bayern Brewing and even get a little cash back for them. There are special wax boxes you can obtain to hold your bottles. The bottles need to be brown, and have no special insignias built into the glass. Bayern will help you learn what you can and can’t bring to them. Learn more at https://www.bayernbrewery.com/sustainability

Recycling Works MT
Started in 2019, this company now offers curb-side pick up of all sorts of glass, including wine, beer and spirit bottles. Also accepted are food jars.  Labels can be left on, but bottles and jars should be clean. No caps, corks, lids, food residue. No glass not intended to hold food or drink. Prices start at $15/month for glass pickup. Learn more at http://recyclingworksmt.com/

Hazardous Waste
Each year since 1993 the Missoula Valley Water Quality District has held a Household Hazardous Waste Collection Event. Historically, this event has been held the 3rd weekend of September at the Missoula City Shops off of Scott St. Learn more about
Haz Waste Days.

*Sourced, in part, from GardenCityRecycling.com

Building Deconstruction 
Building materials can make up a large portion of the waste-stream. There are several companies working to help find new homes for old building materials.

Waste Less Works
You can turn to this company if you have a building that needs sustainable deconstruction. They can help divert those materials from the landfill. If you’re after good reclaimed lumber or other materials, check them out at WasteLessWorks.com

Home Resource
If you’re doing a remodel and would like to see the materials you’re removing have another chance at life, Home Resource will accept a wide variety of items. Your donations of materials are tax-deductible in many cases. Learn more at homeresource.org.