Recycle updates

Contamination, regular maintenance and recycling markets can all affect Lexington’s Recycle Center, which serves communities throughout Central Kentucky. SEE MAP. This page provides the latest updates on what’s happening at the center so you can be a recycling expert.

Residents with city waste service can sign up for 311 Alerts to receive a text or email when a Recycle Center diversion will affect your collection day. As long as we know in time to give notice about cart set-out, we’ll tell you when we are diverting material to the landfill via 311 Alert. We also send reminders about holiday collection schedules, special events like Household Hazardous Waste Collections and more.


October 15, 2019

Mayor Linda Gorton today announced a pilot program involving the collection of clean paper at the Government Center. Employees will place their clean paper in special collection containers, which will then be handled separately from other recyclables. When paper is mixed with other recyclables it is contaminated by moisture, food residue and other recyclables. That’s called dirty paper, and it has little to no market value. Markets still exist for clean paper. During the pilot period, a Request for Proposals will be issued to explore options to collect clean paper throughout the city. Read story.

September 5, 2019

City takes a step toward reestablishing paper recycling as it posted a request for proposals to businesses that may want to provide the service. The City hopes to have recycling back on line in late fall. Read story.  

June 21, 2019

Mayor orders city staffers to hire professional experts to make recommendations. The staff hired Resource Recycling Systems, to recommend ways Lexington can overhaul its recycling program, including:

  • Development of a short- and long-range strategic plan for recycling in Lexington;
  • Investigating private operation of the City’s recycling center;
  • Seeking new markets for paper bales;
  • Assessing and securing contracts for crushed glass; and
  • Evaluating the purchase of advanced glass recycling machinery.

June 12, 2019

The city’s Recycle Center has reopened and is once again processing recyclable materials. The center staff has implemented a temporary fix to the machine that separates aluminum cans from other recyclables and is working on a permanent solution. 

Lexington’s Recycle Center accepts: dry cardboard, aluminum and steel cans, plastic bottles and jugs with a screw top neck, glass bottles and jars. The temporary suspension on recycling paper products is still in effect.

June 10, 2019

The city’s Recycle Center will continue to divert material to a landfill until further notice. The replacement part that was ordered to solve a mechanical problem with the machine that separates aluminum cans from other recyclables was installed Monday morning, but the machine is not operating properly. Recycle Center staff is working with the manufacturer to conduct additional diagnostics. 

June 7, 2019

The replacement part needed to solve a mechanical problem with the machine that separates aluminum cans from other materials at the city’s Recycle Center did not arrive as expected. The part is now scheduled to arrive on Monday morning.

June 5, 2019

The city’s recycling center will be shut down Thursday, June 6, and Friday, June 7, because of a mechanical problem with the machine that separates aluminum cans from other materials. The replacement part is expected to arrive Friday.

May 20, 2019

Republic Services will continue to send the recyclables they collect to the Lexington Recycle Center. No paper during the temporary suspension, please. 

May 17, 2019

Partner communities are planning to divert their recycling to another facility during the paper suspension in order to continue to accept paper. UK has a temporary agreement with another processor. Rumpke will take its material to its plant in Cincinnati. Combined UK and Rumpke’s total material is the equivalent of less than 10% of Lexington Recycle Center’s incoming stream.  

May 14, 2019

Changes in the global marketplace for recycled materials are forcing the Lexington Recycle Center to temporarily suspend recycling of paper products. Businesses and residents should throw office paper, newspaper, magazines, cereal boxes, paper towel rolls and similar products in their trashcans until further notice. 

Read the full press release here.

Lexington suspende temporalmente el reciclaje de papel

FAQs related to the May 14 announcement

Tips on reducing your paper use

Click on the blue button below to download a printable flyer that reflects this temporary change.

Download a flyer on what to recycle

Spanish version of recycle flyer

A brief overview of the Recycle Center

The Lexington Recycle Center doesn’t actually recycle materials. It simply processes and sorts the materials that are delivered by recycling collection trucks from across Central Kentucky. The sorted materials are then sold or given to various industries that recycle them.

The center’s operations can be impacted by unwanted materials mixed in the recycling stream. This trash reduces the efficiency of the center’s operations. It can damage equipment, place employees at risk and diminish the value of sorted materials that the center sells. Help keep the center running smoothly by recycling right.

Related articles

Recycling markets across the country are under strain due to increased standards in China. Learn more about challenges faced by recycling programs across the country:

2019, May 30: Paper Trail: Lexington's Recycling Dilemma, by Angela Poe,

2019, April 22: As recyclables pile up in the U.S., more and more communities are debating whether to scrap recycling programs altogether, (Video) NBC Nightly News

2019, April 1: How American recycling is changing after China’s national sword, by Nicole Javorsky

2019, March 16: As Costs Skyrocket, More U.S. Cities Stop Recycling, by Michael Corkery, New York Times

2019, March 5: Is This the End of Recycling? by Alana Semuels, The Atlantic

2019, February 11, 2019: America has a recycling problem. Here's how to solve it, by Jeff Spross, The Week

2019, January 25: Can Lexington afford its recycling program? Some cities nix recycling as costs climb, by Beth Musgrave, Lexington Herald Leader

2019, January 21: A move by China puts U.S. small-town recycling programs in the dumps, by Rebecca Beitsch, Washington Post