Curbside Recycling Service

How can I get a recycling tote and/or cart?

If you live in one of the participating communities and need a cart or tote(s), request them here.

To keep the curbside system cost effective, we now provide a limit of one rolling black cart and two darker-green totes per household. You are welcome to use additional containers no larger than the green totes, for example storage totes up to 18 gallons, the typical 12-gallon “kitchen” waste baskets, five-gallon buckets, or cardboard boxes (write “SAVE” on the side of the box if you want to reuse it). Just be sure to set out at least one official “Emmet County Recycling” tote or cart with them so we know you mean them for recycling.

If you see escaped or abandoned totes or carts, please notify us of their whereabouts at [email protected] or 231-348-0640. We will get them back to their homes or retrieve them for reuse!

Over a holiday, when will my recyclables be picked up?

calendarWhen a holiday falls on a weekday, recycling pick up will be one day later than usual for the remainder of the week, with Friday customers served on Saturday. This will always be the case with Memorial Day, Labor Day and Thanksgiving. It will apply to New Year’s Day, Independence Day and Christmas Day in years when they fall on a weekday. The County does not observe any other holidays (i.e. Presidents Day).  Here is a printer-friendly chart showing the specifics for this year: 2021 Holiday Curbside Schedule

Exception: Bay View Association
Due to DPW staffing patterns, curbside service in Bay View stays on Thursdays, even after a holiday.

Do I have to pay for curbside collection service?

If you live in a single family home in a participating community, your town or township pays for the service for you.

If you live in an apartment building or condominium or are wondering about curbside recycling for a business, please call Emmet County Recycling at 231-348-0640, as the various communities have different provision for these cases.

What day of the week is my neighborhood served?

curbside recycling mapAlanson:  Tuesdays

Bay Harbor:  Thursdays

Bear Creek:  Thursdays or Fridays (see map or call 231-348-0640)

Harbor Springs:  Tuesdays

Little Traverse:  Tuesdays or Wednesdays (see map or call 231-348-0640)

Petoskey:  Wednesdays or Thursdays (see map or call 231-348-0640)

Resort:  Mondays

What time do I need to have my tote and/or cart out for collection?

For reliable service, you must have your recyclables out by 7 a.m. You may observe that your driver “always” comes much later, but many factors can cause the time of your pick up to change, for example a substitute driver, a substitute truck, and new businesses added to your route day. If you set out your tote(s) after 7 a.m., we may miss you!

What materials are collected curbside?

You can recycle all of the following materials curbside. Please note that they need to be set out, as shown, in two separate categories: 1) Paper, Boxes and Bags and 2) Containers. If you mix the two categories of recyclables, your driver will leave your recycling for you to sort out.

Note: you may set your Paper, Boxes and Bags out in either the wheeled cart or a tote.paper and plastic bags bin

  • Newspapers and inserts
  • Magazines, catalogs and books
  • Office and writing paper
  • Cardboard*, cereal boxes and brown paper grocery bags
  • Plastic grocery and bread bags

* must be small enough to fit in a brown paper grocery bag

Note: Containers are collected in totes only. plastic containers and cans bin

  • Plastic bottles, jugs and jars
  • Plastic tubs, trays and cups
  • Juice boxes, milk cartons and paper cups
  • Metal cans, foil and trays
  • Glass bottles and jars

How do I set out my recyclables?

There are several important factors to remember when setting out your recyclables for curbside collection:

  • Keep the two categories of recyclables separate. You can do this however you prefer — in a tote and a wheeled cart, two totes, a tote and a paper bag, setting a waste basket inside one tote to contain one category — whatever works for you. The categories are outlined above.
  • Always set out at least your wheeled cart or one of the “Emmet County Recycling” green totes. You may use other containers, but an official “Emmet County Recycling” cart or tote is the driver’s cue that materials at the curb are recyclables for collection. If you use containers other than the green “Emmet County Recycling” cart and totes, please choose ones which no larger than our green totes. Your driver lifts hundreds of totes a day and repeatedly lifting very large or deep totes can injure them.
  • If you set out your recyclables in a cardboard or plastic container which might be seen as recyclable, please write “Save This Container” on it in permanent marker if you don’t want it collected.

What areas have curbside collection service?

The following communities provide curbside collection of recyclables to most* of their residents:

  • The Village of Alanson
  • Bear Creek Township (including the Bay View Association)
  • Harbor Springs
  • Little Traverse Township
  • Petoskey (including Bay Harbor)
  • Resort Township
    *Exceptions may include roads not accessible to our trucks and private roads or associations which don’t allow large trucks. Also, see the section below on apartments, condos, and businesses for exceptions in some communities.

Curbside collection was also offered to West Traverse, Littlefield, and Springvale townships, however they chose not to participate at this time. Curbside collection is not being offered in the less densely populated areas of the county because long drives between homes would make the service inefficient and expensive.


Cart Spring Break aka “Frost Laws”

Do you and your Papers-Boxes-andBags Cart live in Bear Creek, Little Traverse or Resort township? Then your cart goes on “spring break”! Don’t worry though, you can still set out your recycling for curbside collection, even Papers, Boxes and Bags during this vacation. Here’s the deal:


Use of the black rolling recycling carts must be suspended for a few weeks each year in late winter because, as the ground begins to thaw, county road commissions in the north impose truck weight restrictions (often called “frost laws”) on most county roads. They do it to minimize damage to the roads during this very vulnerable period. According to a Michigan Department of Transportation press release, “When roads that have been frozen all winter begin to thaw from the surface downward, melting snow and ice saturate the softened ground. During the spring thaw, the roadbed, softened by trapped moisture beneath the pavement, is more susceptible to damage. It’s also the time of year when potholes begin forming due to freeze-thaw cycles.” By limiting the weight of trucks on the roads, the agencies limit damage during this vulnerable period.

These restrictions prevent us from driving our big, white, curbside recycling trucks—which mechanically lift and empty the rolling black recycling carts—on most residential roads in the townships.  During the frost laws period, recycling program staff service households in the townships with pick-up trucks pulling trailers.  It is not possible to empty the rolling carts into the trailers.


So What, Exactly, Are You Supposed to Do?

While frost laws are in force, you can continue to set your paper and cardboard out for collection but you must use one of your green totes instead of the black rolling cart. You are also welcome to use storage totes up to 18 gallons (the size of ECR’s standard green totes) to set your paper and cardboard out, if you prefer not to keep an extra recycling tote all year. Cardboard and paper set out in totes must fit entirely in the tote. Alternately, you can take your Papers, Boxes and Bags to one of our 13 recycling drop-off sites (for example in the plaza with Lowe’s, by the Coin Laundry in D&W Plaza, behind Toski-Sands Plaza, or at the Pleasantview Road Drop-off Center).

Optional lids for ECR’s green totes are also available. The lids are free while supplies last, thanks to a grant from the Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation. They can be picked up at the Department of Public Works offices in the Emmet County Building (200 Division Street, Suite G76 in downtown Petoskey. Public entrance is off Lake Street) or at the Pleasantview Road Drop-off Center (in Little Traverse Township at 7363 South Pleasantview Road). The Drop-off Center is open 8:00 to 4:00 weekdays and 8:00 to 3:00 Saturdays.



When will frost laws go into effect in any given year? And when will they end? It’s up to the Emmet County Road Commission and the Michigan Department of Transportation. According to MDOT’s Communications Office, “MDOT determines when weight restrictions begin each spring by measuring frost depths along state highways, observing road conditions, and monitoring weather forecasts. Weight restrictions remain in effect until the frost line is deep enough to allow moisture to escape and the roadbeds regain stability. County road commissions and city public works departments put in place their own seasonal weight restrictions, which usually, but not always, coincide with state highway weight restrictions.” Locally, frost laws have begun as early as February 20 and as late March 13 within the last five years.

As soon as seasonal truck weight restrictions wrap up—usually in April—you can go back to using your rolling carts. We will announce the end of the “cart spring break” on our Facebook and Instagram pages, website (, and phone system (231-348-0640) as well as through our e-newsletter, The Retriever. To subscribe to the Retriever and automatically receive frost laws beginning and ending dates, visit and search “enews.”


How Will You Know?

Emmet County Recycling provides four options for residents to find out when frost law will begin. We will send a ‘special edition’ of our monthly e-newsletter out to subscribers at both the beginning and end of frost laws. You can subscribe by submitting your email address at the bottom of the page. We will also be displaying announcements of the start and end dates on the home page here at, posting them on their Facebook and Instagram pages, and recording messages on their phone system at 348-0640.


Reunited and recycling’s good…

As soon as seasonal truck weight restrictions wrap up—usually in April—you can go back to using your rolling carts. We will announce the end of the “cart spring break” on our Facebook and Instagram pages, website (, and phone system (231-348-0640) as well as through our e-newsletter, The Retriever. To subscribe to the Retriever and automatically receive frost laws beginning and ending dates, visit and search “enews.”

Are apartments, condominiums, and businesses included?

Full details for apartment, condominium and business curbside recycling services are located here.

Who do I call if I have questions or concerns about curbside service?

Call Emmet County Recycling at 231-348-0640.

How is the service paid for?

The participating towns and townships pay Emmet County Recycling to provide curbside collection service. All of the participating communities found the means to cover the costs within their existing revenues, so there are not any specific fees, assessments, or taxes for this service.

What types of homes, businesses, and institutions are included is up to each community. Generally they don’t pay for larger apartment complexes or businesses, but the guidelines vary from one community to another. (Alternately, businesses and larger residential communities and businesses can contract with Emmet County Recycling directly at low annual rates. For more information, see the sections on apartments and condominiums and businesses.)

Who is operating the service?

Emmet County Recycling (a division of the Emmet County Department of Public Works) operates the curbside recycling program. We’re the same people who operate the County’s Drop-Off Recycling Sites and the Drop-off Center, which includes a Compost Center and Waste Transfer Station.

You can recycle many additional materials (for example clothing, scrap metal, and electronics) at the Drop-off Center. See the Recycling Guide for all of the details.