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In the United States, recycling is still in its infancy.  In fact, in most areas, separating trash at all is still pretty much optional.  So it may come as something as a shock to discover that in Italy, recycling is taken as seriously as fashion, food, and fast cars.

The first thing you have to understand is that pretty much everything is recyclable.  In fact, I’d bet money that most Italians believe in reincarnation.  After all, it’s just another type of recycling 🙂

Anyway, the first thing to know is that at your house, you should have a small yellow container.  This is for personal trash–stuff that isn’t recyclable, like q-tips, plastic silverware, razors, things like that.  Once a week, the trash truck will come by and you’ll need to have the yellow bin on the curb so they will take your trash. And yes, it should be in trash bags.  The trick is that they will only empty full bins, so you may only place it on the curb once or twice a month.  There are guides online to help you know which day the trash pick up is in your city.  And you can download/print the guides to make sure you are in compliance.

And yes–that’s my new bike! Well, I guess it’s not that new anymore.  I’ve had it for a year.


All other bins are for the neighborhood and you’ll see them at intervals all along the street.


The two most common bins (in the sense that these are literally everywhere) are the red and blue bins.  The blue bins are for glass and so are usually full of wine bottles.


The red bins are for food wastes–like if you are eating an apple and need to toss the core.


Then there are the larger bins.  The large blue bin is for plastic and metal products.  Anything that contained food–to include meat packaging can go in here.

The green is for yard waste.


Last but not least are the large yellow bins which are for cardboard (broken down) and paper products.


You will generally see most people either ride their bikes to the recycle bins or load everything up in their cars and drive to the bins.  I’ve done both.

For things that defy easy categorization, you’ll have to find out the day that your city picks up that sort of stuff or you may just have to take it to the landfill yourself.

This whole recycling thing may seem daunting–okay, well it kind of is.  But just know that eventually you’ll get the hang of it and you really are contributing to a safer and healthier planet 🙂