Socket's Tips: Ways to Reduce Waste

Waste reduction and responsible waste management support Nashville’s citywide long term zero waste goals. As the Department of General Services strives to reduce waste in Metro facilities, the guides below can help Metro employees and visitors place waste in its proper place. This information applies to Metro Government buildings’ blue recycling bins and larger recycling carts and containers located throughout Metro facilities. This information is also applicable to items accepted in Metro Curby recycling bins for Davidson County residents in the Urban Services District that have access to curbside recycling pickup.

The items below can be recycled in Metro Government buildings and in Davidson County curbside bins. Be sure items are clean and dry.

Paper & Cardboard
CLEAN PAPER & BOXES: office paper, magazines, junk mail, newspaper, computer paper, notebook paper, phone books, paperback books, construction paper, brown paper bags, milk or juice cartons, cardboard boxes, food boxes.

CLEAN PLASTIC BOTTLES & CONTAINERS: drink bottles and their caps, detergent and cleaner bottles and their caps, yogurt/cottage cheese and other dairy "tubs" and their lids, and plastic trays.

CLEAN METAL & ALUMINUM CANS: food and drink cans, empty aerosol cans, foils and trays.

Additional items are recyclable at Metro Public Works’ Drop Off Sites and Convenience Centers, as well as other locations.

The items below can be composted in Metro Government buildings that have composting bins and at Metro Public Works’ four Convenience Centers.

Food Scraps
FOOD SCRAPS: coffee grounds, leftovers, fruits, vegetables, cores/ peelings, tea bags, grains (such as breads, pasta, rice), egg shells, nut shells, snack foods, candy, bones, meat, dairy.

Soiled Paper Products
SOILED PAPER PRODUCTS: coffee filters, paper napkins, paper towels, tissues, greasy pizza boxes, paper take-out containers, paper egg cartons, paper cups and plates (ensure they are 100% paper).

VEGETATION: flowers, grass clippings, houseplant cuttings, leaves/ yard waste, wood chips/twigs.

Items that are neither recyclable nor compostable may need to be disposed of as landfill trash.. As our landfills in Middle Tennessee reach capacity, reducing landfill waste is an important priority for Metro government and residents.

Examples of trash include: candy wrappers, chip bags, styrofoam, plastic toys, pet waste, diapers.
For Davidson County residents, your trash collection schedule is located here.

Socket's Tips: Ways to Reduce Waste

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Avoid disposable items when possible.

  • Instead maintain and repair durable products or reuse disposable items for different use.

Use reusable dishware at home and on the go

  • If your office has access to a sink or dishwasher, bring reusable dishware to work instead of using single-serve throwaway dishware.

  • Bring reusable dishes or to go containers when dining out at places that use disposable. Ask the restaurant staff to use your dishes for dine in or carry out!

  • Bring your own reusable water bottle everywhere you go, instead of buying plastic water bottles.

Only print what you need

  • Set your printer default to double-sided and black and white to reduce your paper waste and save ink.  

  • Cut printed-on paper into smaller pieces and reuse for short notes and scrap paper.

  • For agendas and other materials, use digital projection rather than print outs.

Choose recycled content paper

  • Order paper made from post-consumer recycled material rather than paper made from virgin wood fiber.

Recycle your used ink cartridges and toner

  • Many retailers, such as office supply stores, accept used ink cartridges.

  • Ink cartridges are made of plastic, precious metals, aluminum and ferrous metals. The printer ink and toner that are widely used in cartridges are classified as hazardous materials.

  • These materials, when placed in the landfill, can take hundreds of years to decompose and in the meantime have the potential to negatively impact our waterways, soil and human health.

Host low-waste events and meetings

  • Choose locally grown or locally produced food or select a local caterer who uses local products, and use reusable or sustainable dishware.

  • This supports local businesses and decreases the miles that food has to travel to get to you. Reducing food miles reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

Send reusable surplus office items and equipment to your local thrift store

  • If you have reusable surplus items at work that you no longer need but are still in good condition, take them to your local thrift store such as Goodwill, Habitat For Humanity Restore, or Salvation Army.

  • If you are a Metro employee, use eBid, Metro’s online surplus and auction to provide new life for your unwanted items. Go to Inside Metro General Services webpage (, then visit the eBid section where you will find the appropriate forms to complete.

What can be recycled in Nashville?

  • Metro has single stream recycling which means you can recycle paper, cardboard, plastic bottles and containers, aluminum cans and metal cans all in one container.

  • See the full list of what can and cannot be recycled.

  • All recyclables should be clean of food scraps or liquid, which can contaminate your recycling. If you have large cardboard boxes, be sure to break them down so that the bin doesn’t fill up.

What do you do with hard to recycle items?

  • Things like glass, batteries, electronics, and hazardous materials cannot go in the regular recycling collection.

  • They can be taken to one of Public Works’ Recycling Drop-off Sites. Public Works’ website, under “neighborhood services” will show you which drop-off locations accept which items.

  • Plastic bags are the biggest source of contamination for Nashville’s recycling facility. DO NOT include plastic bags in your regular recycling. Local grocery stores generally accept and recycle plastic bags.

 Reuse or recycle bags and containers whenever possible.

  • If you can’t find a use for a plastic bag, check to see if your local grocery store collects them or re-use them as trash or doggie bags.

Purchase products with minimal packaging or that are made of recycled materials.

  • Your consumer choices matter. The more demand for products with sustainable materials, the more affordable they will become.

Bring your own reusable bags whenever you go shopping.

  • Whether you have to buy some groceries or a new pair of shoes, bringing your own reusable bag is a great way to reduce your waste and carbon footprint. 

  • In the U.S., we use more than 380 billion plastic bags and wraps yearly, requiring 12 million barrels of oil to create. (EPA)

Purchase secondhand clothes, furniture, and other items.

  • Buying something used means that no virgin materials had to be extracted and used to produce whatever you are purchasing. It’s the second “R” in “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”!

  • When you buy something that is second-hand, you stop it from ending up in the landfill by reusing it first. After you’re done with it, try to pass it along to someone else so this sustainable cycle can live on.

Stop food waste.

  • Learn tips to save food, including freezing techniques, shopping guidelines, meal planning, and more from

  • Check out the restaurants that have signed up for Mayor Barry’s Food Saver Challenge.

Compost remaining food and yard waste.

Participate in planned Neighborhood Clean-ups or organize your own.

Adopt a Street, Highway, Stop or Stream

Take part in one of the following beautification efforts through Public Works

Read 2310 times Last modified on Monday, 20 May 2019