WasteNot Project


Recycling conserves valuable natural resources by using them more than once. Recycling is limited in Montana because of our distance from recycling markets. By recycling the items we can, we slow down how fast we’re filling up our local landfill, saving money and land resources in our valley.

Click the items below to learn how and where to recycle them in the Flathead Valley.

Map of Public Drop-off Sites | Curbside Pickup

Please note: All recyclables should be clean with no food particles or oil. Please sort materials and only include approved items in the correct bin. Contamination can send entire recycle containers to the landfill.

How to Sort
Include all types of paper, such as:
✔ Office paper, cardstock, manila file folders (staples and tape ok)
✔ Magazines and catalogs (glossy paper ok)
✔ Newspaper and inserts
✔ Junk mail (windowed enveloped ok)
✔ Phone books
✔ Notebook paper
✔ Paperboard (cereal or soda boxes, etc.)
✔ Brown paper bags
✔ Egg cartons

Recycle at:
All recycle locations.

Did you know? Paper makes up close to a third of what we throw away nationwide. Recycling paper 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 for new paper.

How to Sort
✔ Corrugated Cardboard ONLY. Please flatted boxes and remove all packing material. NO cereal box/paperboard. NO waxed boxes or pizza boxes.

Please note:
The difference in paperboard and cardboard cartons lies in how they are constructed. Paperboard is thicker than average paper, but it is still just one layer. Cardboard is three layers of heavy paper, two flat with a wavy one in the middle.

Recycle at:
All recycle locations.

Did you know? Recycling cardboard has similar benefits as recycling paper, but the fibers in cardboard are longer and stronger than paper so they can be recycled many times.

How to Sort
✔ #1 Clear Bottles Only
✘ NO clamshells even if they’re a #1!
✔ #2 Translucent Bottles Only (like milk jugs)
✘ NO solid color containers even if they’re a #2!
✘ NO plastic bags or film. Please recycle those separately at grocery stores.

Recycle at:
Valley Recycling (1410 Hwy 2 West, Kalispell)

City of Whitefish residents only may recycle #1 and #2 plastics at the City Central Recycling site. Click here for more info.

Did you know? The number inside of the chasing arrows triangle on plastics is the resin identification code, identifying which kind of plastic that container is made from. #1 clear bottles and #2 translucent bottles are the most common and valuable to recycle. Many types of plastic cannot be recycled.

How to Sort
✔ Soda and beer cans. Magnets will not stick to aluminum.
✔ Cans only. No need to flatten. Must be clean.
Recycle at: All recycle locations EXCEPT unmanned Kalispell sites (Albertson's & KME).

✔ Soup and vegetable cans. Magnets will stick to tin/steel.
✔ No need to remove labels or flatten. Must be clean and rust-free.
Recycle at: Pacific Steel & Recycling, City of Whitefish site

Did you know? Metals are infinitely recyclable without loss in strength and quality. Aluminum can be recycled using less than five percent of the energy it took to make the original product.

Glass can be recycled at periodic non-profit fundraising events hosted by Flathead Recon. Check their Facebook page for the next event. This is currently the only glass recycling option in the Flathead.

Did you know? 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.

Major appliances include refrigerators, dishwashers, freezers, dryers, dehumidifiers, stoves/ranges, trash compactors, water heaters, air conditioners, furnaces, washing machines, heat pumps.

Appliances can be recycled at the following locations:
  • Flathead County Landfill (758-5910) All types; County will remove Freon for free and recycle it. Doors must be removed from fridges and freezers.
  • Pacific Steel & Recycling (755-7011) Only appliances without Freon. No fridges unless properly evacuated.
Junk Cars Car Batteries
When purchasing a new battery, ask if they will recycle your old one. Tires Or, return with purchase of new tires.

Radiators Car Oil Antifreeze
Building Supplies
New construction or remodel projects create a lot of waste that can usually be reused or repurposed instead of trashed.
  • Habitat For Humanity ReStore: 2610 Hwy 93 South, Kalispell, 752-2905.
    Accepts most building supplies in good condition for reuse or to re-sell; some latex paints; no blinds. Call ahead.
  • Flathead Recon: Columbia Falls, 250-2086
    Flathead Recon provides deconstruction services, construction-site and property clean-up services, waste stream audits, and reclaimed building materials for sale. Will pick up construction waste for recycling at job sites. Call for info and pricing.

Remember: oil-based paint, latex paint, paint thinners, turpentine, mineral spirits and solvents should never be poured down a drain or storm sewer.

Paint can be recycled at the following locations:

Oil Based Paints Latex Paint
  • Habitat For Humanity ReStore: only take latex paint that has not been frozen.
  • To dispose of unusable paint, remove lid and air-dry leftover paint in can. Discard hardened paint with your household trash.
Always reuse clothing first if it can still be worn! Thrift stores, yard sales, hand-me-downs, and upcycling are all great ways to reuse old clothes.

When clothing or other fabrics become too worn to be used again, recycle at:
  • Flathead Industries
    Mark bags for recycling and bring to downtown Kalispell location (40 E Idaho St). Holes and frays are fine. Fabrics cannot be wet, moldy, soiled, or smell of cigarettes.
There may be fees for recycling electronics, call recyclers for prices. INK & LASER CARTRIDGES RECHARGEABLE BATTERIES
Including: Nickel Cadmium (Ni-Cd) / Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-Mh) / Lithium Ion (Li) Single-Use (Alkaline) Batteries:
There are no local recycling centers for single-use batteries. Because of the Mercury-Containing and Rechargeable Battery Management Act, alkaline batteries no longer contain mercury and are not considered hazardous. Single-use batteries such as AAA, AA, C or D batteries can be safely disposed of in your household trash.

Checking to make sure that Electronic Waste is recycled in an environmentally safe manner is an ongoing consumer responsibility. Largely because of consumer pressure, most responsible companies are getting independent third-party certification that their E-Waste collections are properly recycled and not “dumped” in overseas countries.

Find out more about third-party certifications, and what to ask before you recycle: KEEP SECURITY IN MIND
Although most recyclers will provide assurance that your personal data is destroyed, don’t take a chance. Be responsible for protecting your identity and your assets, make sure to clean hard drives and cell phones before recycling.

Did you know? Two million tons of electronics are improperly dumped at landfills every year. Each computer monitor alone contains 4 pounds of lead, as well as arsenic, lithium, mercury, beryllium, and other chemicals. For every million cell phones we recycle, 35 thousand pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold, and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered.

Food Waste
  • Dirt Rich Compost: 325 4th St. NE, Columbia Falls, 212-7535
    Fee-based pickup service for food scraps.
  • Flathead Food Bank: 1203 US Hwy 2 W, Ste. 2, Kalispell, 752-3663
    Donate unwanted food, baby formula, beauty and health products.
Yard Waste
  • Dirt Rich Compost: 325 4th St. NE, Columbia Falls, 212-7535
    Yard-waste drop-off for leaves, garden cutback, horse manure, and grass clippings from untreated lawns.
  • Flathead County Landfill: 4098 Hwy 93 N, Kalispell, 758-5910
    Grass, leaves, branches, brush, weeds, hay. Loads must be secured.
Household Hazardous Waste
What is Hazardous Waste? Hazardous Waste is any substance that can potentially harm people, animals, or the environment through skin contact or ingestion. Common examples include oil-based paint, thinner, stains, cleaners, pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, fertilizers, turpentine, lye, and pool and spa chemicals.

Read the labels on products before you throw them away and look for warnings such as flammable, caustic, danger, hazardous, or poison. Wastes such as these need to be properly disposed of to protect our households and water quality.

The Flathead County Landfill provides a free collection service for Household Hazardous Waste on the third Saturday of every month. This service is by appointment only, so you don’t have to wait in line. Download a registration form here to safely dispose of your household hazardous waste at the next event.

They accept: oil-based paint, solvents, strippers, pool and spa chemicals, pesticides/herbicides, fertilizers, cleaners, and poisons. Please bring in original, clearly marked closed containers only. DO NOT MIX WASTES.

Business Hazardous Waste Disposal
Most businesses use at least some products that are considered hazardous waste. The Flathead County Landfill offers an annual Business Hazardous Waste Disposal event, typically in late spring each year. If your business generates or uses products with a warning label such as flammable, caustic, danger, hazardous or poison, call the landfill at 758-5910 to learn how to participate. While this program is not free, it offers significant reductions in rates by organizing joint collection dates while allowing you to easily meet your legal disposal requirements.

Proper disposal of business HHW is required and regulated by law. Regulations concerning the management of hazardous wastes are issued by and enforced by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These regulations apply to hazardous wastes from “cradle to grave.” In other words, you are responsible for the hazardous wastes you produce or use from the time they are generated until the time they are properly, legally disposed of. In addition, various local agencies (like the fire department or sewage treatment plant) may have requirements on how and where your hazardous materials are stored, used, and disposed of.

Learn more about Montana’s Hazardous Waste Program at http://deq.mt.gov/Land/hazwaste. Visit http://www.montana.edu/pollution-prevention/business.html for cost-saving tips and technical assistance services.
Fluorescent Bulbs
Mercury makes fluorescent lights work and cannot be eliminated from the lights completely. When mercury-containing products are placed in the household trash, the mercury may be released to the environment. Recycling fluorescents keeps mercury out of the environment and allows the mercury, glass, and metal to be reused.

Note: Businesses must comply with MT State Law when disposing of long tube fluorescent and HID lamps, ballasts, and thermostats. Disposal by residents in household trash is discouraged, but not currently prohibited. See below for safe local disposal options for CFLs. Find more information about CFL bulbs at http://deq.mt.gov/Land/recycle/real_question.

CFL Recycling:
  • Home Depot: 2455 US Hwy 93 N, Kalispell, 755-5333, accepts CFLs only
  • Lowe’s: 2360 US Hwy 93 N, Kalispell, 758-3030, accepts CFLs only
Fluorescent tubes:
There are currently no local recycling options for fluorescent tubes. Click here for a list of mail-in programs and business options.
LED Bulbs
LED bulbs are even more energy efficient and last longer than CFL bulbs. There are currently no local recycling options for LED bulbs. Because they do not contain mercury, they are safe to place in your household trash.
Many thermostats used to control the room temperature in your home contain mercury. Consequently, these old thermostats should never be disposed of in the trash or local landfill. To assist homeowners with proper disposal of mercury-containing thermostats, a no-cost collection/recycling program is available to all Montana residents.
Bubble Wrap, Styrofoam, Packing Peanuts
  • The UPS Store: Kalispell, 755-8333; or Whitefish, 862-8300
  • Kettle Care Organics: 257-6622
Proper 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 secure drop boxes sites for safe disposal:

  • Flathead County Justice Center Drop Box (920 Main St.) — Accessible 24/7.
  • Walgreen Pharmacy (40 W Idaho St.) — Accessible 24/7.
  • The Clinical Pharmacy (200 Conway Dr.)
  • Family Health Care (1287 Burns Way)
  • Sykes Pharmacy (202 2nd Ave W)
Columbia Falls:
  • Columbia Falls Police Station Drop Box (130 6th St. W) – 8am-6pm Monday through Friday
  • Whitefish Police Station Drop Box (275 Flathead Ave.) – 8am-6pm Monday through Friday
  • Alpine Apothecary (Inside Super 1)
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.

Where to Recycle

Click here to download our How to Recycle in the Flathead Valley brochure!

Pharmaceutical Waste Disposal

Click here to download out How to Dispose of Pharmaceutical Waste in the Flathead brochure!

Public Drop-off Sites

Flathead County maintains free collection sites for residents to dispose of their recyclables. Click the markers for the address and which materials are collected at each recycling site.

Curbside Pickup

The Flathead Valley has multiple fee-based curbside recycling businesses. Contact the following businesses for prices and schedules:

Green Machines
Countywide pick-up service, home and business.
(406) 755-8112

North Valley Refuse
Whitefish only service, home and business.
(406) 862-4381

Dirt Rich Compost Food Scrap Pick-up
Countywide pick-up service for food scraps
(406) 212-7535

Periodic Glass Recycling Events with Flathead Recon

Citizens for a Better Flathead (CBF) continues to partner with Flathead Recon, a Columbia Falls based recycling facility, to put on a glass recycling events.

The suggested donation is $1.00 per pound of glass recycling you bring. Proceeds from the event cover the cost of recycling and help fund CBF’s ongoing efforts to keep Flathead Valley the special place we love as it grows and develops.

For Flathead Valley residents, it’s been difficult to find a way to recycle glass over the years because many places that once did it have either stopped or gone out of business. According to the EPA, only about 30 percent of glass in the United States is recycled every year. Flathead Recon owner Dave Fishlowitz purchased a glass pulverizer with the goal of diverting good materials from the landfill toward reuse. 

Flathead Recon is currently the only glass recycling facility in the valley. After the glass has been broken down by Fishlocitz’s pulverizer, it is loaded into five-gallon buckets and placed onto pallets where it is ready for local landscaping companies to pick up and use in their designs. Glass-recycling facilities in Montana are few and far between, and Fischlowitz’s method diverts glass away from landfills and repurposes the material locally, which removes the fuel costs and expenses of exporting recyclables.

By partnering with Flathead Recon, CBF is hoping to do its part to minimize the amount of recyclables in the landfill. CBF hopes that Saturday’s event will help bring awareness to the issues with local waste disposal and recycling. 

 Let’s all do the best we can to keep recyclables out of the landfill. Please bring your clean, color-sorted glass (without caps) to Flathead Recon in Columbia Falls on these special days. These events are weather dependent and may need to be canceled or postponed in the event of severe weather.