What to Recycle

Your guide to what you can recycle in the Flathead Valley. You can download a copy of our How to Recycle brochure here. Please call us at 756-8993 with any questions, or for information on items not listed.




Paper_chipboardEach person in the United States uses approximately 749 pounds of paper a year. Paper makes up close to a third of what we throw away nationwide. Recycling paper makes economic and environmental sense, as it saves 60-70% of the energy used for virgin paper while making our natural resources go farther. Paper is easy to recycle because it is made from wood, and it separates back into fibers when soaked in water. Paper can be recycled seven times and thus reduces the need to harvest timber to make new paper.

Paper and Cardboard are accepted at all Drop-Off Sites and Recycling Centers in the valley.

How to Sort:

Mixed Paper
All forms of paper, including:
–  Office paper, colored and white (staples okay)
–  Magazines and catalogs
–  Newspaper, including inserts
–  Junk mail (windowed envelopes okay)
–  Phone books
–  Computer paper

–  Mixed Corrugated Cardboard
–  Paperboard
–  Brown Paper Bags
–  Cardboard egg cartons
–  NO waxed cardboard (like milk cartons) or non-cardboard packing materials.

–  See “Mailing and Packing Materials” for information on bubble wrap, styrofoam and packing peanuts.




As of February 15th, 2018, plastic recycling has been suspended at all Flathead County Drop-Off Sites and Recycling Centers except for the City of Whitefish drop-off site. Click here to read more about these changes, and what you can do.

The City of Whitefish central recycling site will continue to accept #1 & #2 Plastics only until further notice.

How to sort:

– Includes clear and colored containers, bottles, jars, and clamshell containers. Please rinse and remove all lids/caps and put lids in garbage (lids are a different type of plastic and NOT recyclable).
– If there is not a clearly marked chasing arrow recycling sign with a #1 or #2 on the container please place in trash.
– DO NOT place any bags or plastic film in the recycling bins.



Metals are infinitely recyclable without loss in strength and quality. Aluminum cans are accepted at all Drop-Off Sites and Recycling Centers in the valley except for unmanned Kalispell city sites. As of February 15th, 2018, tin/steel can recycling has been suspended at all Flathead County Drop-Off Sites and Recycling Centers except for the City of Whitefish drop-off site and Pacific Steel & Recycling. Click here to read more about these changes, and what you can do.

How to Sort:

metalsAluminum Cans
– No need to remove labels or flatten.
– Can include clean aluminum foil.

Tin/Steel Cans
– Accepted separate from aluminum at Pacific Steel & Recycling
– Clean, rust free

Other Scrap Metals
– Pacific Steel & Recycling, 755-7011. Accepts and pays for scrap iron, steel, aluminum, stainless steel, brass, copper, radiators, wire and large appliances that do not contain Freon.

– Jeff the Rovin’ Recycler, 260-5262. Will buy and pick up most metals, including radiators, screen doors, stainless steel, silverware, aluminum cans and other aluminum items, catalytic converters, wire, copper, brass, lead, alloys and pipe fittings. Can provide a walk-through of your site to determine what can be recycled. Call for more information.




Glass is treated differently than other recyclables as it cannot be baled and is too costly to ship to nearby recycling centers. However, recycled glass is a virtually free building material that can be used in everything from roads to backfill to insulation. Many communities across the country are now successfully using glass crushers to create building and landscaping materials.

As of October 2018, local glass recycling business New World Recycling is closing and attempting to sell the business. This means that Flathead County will lose glass recycling on 12/1/18 unless a buyer comes forward.

Glass can be recycled at the following location THROUGH NOVEMBER 30TH, 2018:

Glacier National Park Lodges Site
– GLASS ONLY drop-off at 1014 1st Ave W, Columbia Falls. Bins located behind the warehouse. Residential use only.




prescriptionbottlesProper disposal of unused medications can help prevent drug abuse in your neighborhood and protect the Flathead’s water quality. Flushing medications adds to pollution of our waters because wastewater and septic systems are not designed to treat these chemicals. Download a copy of our Pharmaceutical Waste Brochure.

Instead of flushing or pouring down the drain, take unused medicines to county drop-off sites for safe disposal. This is a free, anonymous, public service provided by local law enforcement agencies. They are the only agencies currently legally permitted to collect unwanted medications.

Quick and easy drop boxes are located at:

Kalispell: Flathead County Justice Center Drop Box
– Accessible 24 hours a day 7 days a week

Columbia Falls: Columbia Falls Police Station Drop Box
– 8am-6pm Monday through Friday

Whitefish: Whitefish Police Station Drop Box
– 8am-6pm Monday through Friday 


If you are unable to make it to one of these collection points please follow these steps as a last resort:

  1. Dump medicines out of their container into a re-sealable bag
  2. Pour enough water into the bag to let medicines dissolve
  3. Add an absorbent such as kitty litter, coffee grounds, or sawdust and mix together
  4. Seal bag and place in a garbage container out of reach of children and pets.




Please Don't litter 90084422_bcb67cbaa4Did you know that the following items are also recyclable in the Flathead Valley?


Auto Parts and Fluids

Building Supplies and Paint

E-Waste and Batteries

Fluorescent Bulbs and Thermostats

Mailing and Packing supplies

Hazardous Waste