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Where Does it Go? Updated look-it-up tool

Ever wished that you had a cheat-sheet for sorting an item into the correct bin? “Hmm, I think this goes in the recycling bin. No… compost bin right? Or is does it go in the garbage?” Oh, boy. We understand that sorting can be confusing. That’s why we have materials available to help including flyers, videos, and a look-up tool.

Speaking of the look-up tool, it just got an update! The tool is now more user friendly thanks to improved organization and a streamlined design. Check it out here.

To celebrate the update, we are spotlighting some common items that may be tricky to sort. Do you know where batteries, light bulbs, and medicine go? The answers might surprise you… find out below.


  • Alkaline batteries (including AAA, AA, C, D and 9v) can go in the garbage. Or, you can recycle them at the North Transfer Station, or at Household Hazardous Waste locations.
  • Rechargeable batteries do not go in the garbage. Rechargeable and lithium-ion batteries are accepted at Household Hazardous Waste locations and at Call2Recyle drop-off locations. (These batteries are found in cordless power tools, cellular and cordless phones, laptop computers, digital cameras, toothbrushes, and remote control toys. Remove the battery from the item if possible.)
  • Vehicle/Lead-Acid Batteries can be recycled either at the automotive store where you purchased your new battery, or at a Seattle Transfer Station. Car and other vehicle batteries are illegal in the garbage.

Light bulbs

  • All fluorescent lights, such as tubes and compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL), contain mercury and are banned from Seattle’s garbage. Find light bulb collection sites via LightRecycle or Take It Back Network. You can also take up to 10 bulbs per trip to a Household Hazardous Waste location. Take care and do not break fluorescent light bulbs.
  • Halogen and Xenon light bulbs go in the garbage. They cannot be recycled in your curbside recycling bin. (Only glass bottles and jars can be recycled in your curbside cart or at the transfer stations. Other glass items have different melting points and must be recycled with special processes.)
  • Incandescent bulbs and LED bulbs go into the garbage.


  • Please don’t dispose of leftover medicines in the garbage or flush them down the toilet. You can safely dispose of medicines in convenient drop-boxes. Find a secure drop-box location near you and learn more about King County Secure Medicine Return program by watching this video, or visiting their website.

Whew! Don’t worry, you don’t have to memorize all of this. Just pull up the look-up tool whenever you find yourself needing to dispose of something.

Have a sorting question that isn’t featured on our look-it-up tool, flyers, or videos? Ask us on Twitter or Facebook and use the hashtag #WhereDoesItGo.