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Posted on Wed, May 11, 2011 : 11:27 a.m.

You can recycle clean plastic flower pots and trays

By Nancy Stone

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As planting season ramps up, local gardeners may be glad to learn that clean plastic flower pots and plant trays can now be recycled in curbside collection carts.

Thanks to the upgrade to the City of Ann Arbor’s single-stream recycling facility, an expanded range of plastic bottles, tubs, deli-trays, and cup-shapes can be put into recycling carts. Acceptable plastic gardening containers include clean plastic pots used for holding plants, shrubs and trees; clean trays that hold flats of plants (please discard the flimsy plant “cell packs”); and clean hanging planters (with the hangers removed and discarded).

Clean garden trays and plastic flower pots to be recycled need to be sturdy in order to be mechanically separated from papers during the automated sorting process at the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF).

Flimsy, thin plant holders (often often called “cell packs” and holding 12-48 plants within a sturdy tray) are not acceptable. Flimsy containers are sorted as flat paper by the machinery at the Ann Arbor MRF, as shown in the five-minute MRF video posted at (specifically at

Additionally, some cell-pack type containers contain chemical properties which can contaminate other recycled plastics in re-manufacturing, even if they have an “acceptable” recycling number. Please clean all containers before they are placed in a recycling bin. Dirt and debris left on recyclables cause contamination in the sorting process and also in the material to be re-manufactured.

Please do not place terracotta or ceramic flower pots into recycling carts. Terracotta and ceramics — as well as Pyrex, plate glass and mirrors — have different melting points than glass bottles and jars and therefore are not desired.

For 24-hour information on Ann Arbor’s solid waste services, please phone 99-GREEN (734-994-7336) or consult the city’s web site at For information on plastic recycling options beyond what is offered through Ann Arbor’s recycling collection program, a list of drop-off or mail-back programs for specific materials is compiled by Washtenaw County and posted online at

Nancy Stone is the Communications Liaison for Public Services at the City of Ann Arbor. She can be reached at Visit for more information on local environmental topics including recycling, composting, water conservation and choices for green living.

Your World provides local environmental information to our community. Contributing partners include: Washtenaw County’s Environmental Health Division; the nonprofit Recycle Ann Arbor; the City of Ann Arbor’s Public Services Area, Natural Area Preservation, Systems Planning programs for Energy, Environmental Coordination, Solid Waste, Transportation, and Water Resources.