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How does recycling in Columbia, SC work?

Don’t know what to do with a specific item or where to start if you’re curious about recycling in Columbia? We’ve got you.


A Yellow Shirt Ambassador cleaning up trash on Main Street. | Photo provided | Jonathan Hawley

Jonathan Hawley

Table of Contents

In light of Earth Day happening this month, we decided to break down some of the details about recycling. Pro tip: Use this interactive map to help you find recycling locations across the state. It showcases what you can recycle in each county and drop-off centers.

For quick access — check out the recycling information for Lexington County and Richland County. When you go to the County’s website, scroll down on the page for what to do if you live in cities inside of the County — like the City of Columbia, the Town of Irmo, the City of Cayce, and more.

Say hello to the Waste Wizard

The free, local solid waste/recycling website has three cool features:

  1. Type in your address and get your garbage + recycling schedule (with optional notifications to remind you when to wheel out your carts).
  2. Type in an item and it will tell you where to put it — in the trash, recycling, compost bin, or a special drop-off site.
  3. Play the sorting game which tests your knowledge of how to dispose of items like metal hangers, old CDs, motor oil + clothing.

Recycling cheat sheet

Fun fact: Recycling is hyper-localized, so just because it has a recycling symbol on it doesn’t mean it’s recyclable here. Here are the general rules for our area:

Do: aluminum + steel cans (not crushed), brown, green, and clear glass (bottles, jars, etc.), cardboard + paperboard (boxes broken down/flattened), paper, hard plastics, and magazines

Treat: make food/drink containers visibly clean — rinse and remove any liquids or foods from recycled jars.

Don’t: SCDHEC lists out what it calls the “dirty dozen” — items that should never go into your recycling.

Pro tip: Here is a go-to guide for recycling hard-to-manage items like batteries, oils, appliances, paints, and more. When in doubt, use the handy waste wizard for your specific county + items.