Recycling things like paper food boxes, aluminum cans and clean cardboard is one of the simplest ways for average citizens to do their part for planet Earth. Keeping recyclables out of landfills is easy when you have sturdy recycling bins for use at home. Many Americans are able to get free recycling bins by contacting the government agency that handles their local trash and recycling services.
What's difficult about figuring out how to get free recycling bins is that there's a ton of variation in local recycling programs. You may live in an area where free curbside pickup is provided, and bins are given to residents for free, or you may have to pay for private services from a waste hauler. Whether or not your local government has determined that recycling is mandatory will often affect what kind of services are available.
Getting Free Recycling Bins
A good place to start is by checking if your town or county has a recycling agency; a quick web search should reveal this. Your local sanitation department may also govern recycling services. The extensive database maintained by Earth 911 is another great resource for specific recycling questions. Enter your ZIP code and what type of material you're recycling to find links to local resources.
Once you find out who handles your local recycling, you should find contact information that you can use to request your own bin. This may require calling a number, or you may be able to make the request through an online portal.
If free recycling services aren't available to you, you may have to either collect your own recycling and drop it off at a designated location or pay a hauler to do regular pickups. Generally, customers who pay for pickup services from a company such as Waste Management do get "free" bins delivered to them.
More Options for Recycling Bins
If you're after a free recycling bin and you can't get one from your local government, another option is to post in local online groups or marketplaces with your request. Platforms like Nextdoor, Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist could be useful for this purpose. Someone who is moving or trying to get rid of excess recycling bins may be willing to give them to you for free.
You may find after some searching that there's no viable way to get a truly free recycling bin in your area. Know that generic blue recycling bins are available for purchase. They won't be free unless you have a gift card, but recycling bins can be purchased for between $10 and $20 at home improvement stores. Recyclers that use multiple recycling bins also have the option of buying a recycle bin cart from Lowe's or Home Depot.
Making Your Own Recycling Bins
Making your own recycling bins may or may not be viable if you get curbside pickup. It's up to your local recycling collectors to decide whether to empty a curbside bin that's not an "official" recycling bin.
That said, they'll probably take any materials that are stored in a container that is itself recyclable. Cardboard boxes or paper bags can be used to collect things for this purpose. Write "recycling" on the box or bag before setting it out at the curb.