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Rhode Island Solid Waste Management & Recycling Program Overview

Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation
65 Shun Pike, Johnston, RI 02919-4512

NERC Board Member Representative

Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation
Jared Rhodes, Director of Policy and Program

Tel: (401) 228-3276

Program Contacts

General Information

Business Assistance Guide

Solid Waste Facilities

State Surplus Property Program 

Compost Information


In Rhode Island, most major waste management functions have historically been vested in two agencies: R.I. Resource Recovery Corporation (Resource Recovery) and the Department of Environmental Management (DEM). Resource Recovery’s major responsibility is developing and operating facilities and programs for solid waste management and recycling, while DEM is mainly responsible for regulating solid and hazardous waste management facilities. Both agencies have other responsibilities, including planning, public education, technical assistance, and funding. 

Resource Recovery’s 1,200 acre facility in Johnston is home to five major operations:

  1. Materials Recycling Facility for bin/cart recyclables
  2. Small Vehicle Area for special/bulky item drop-off
  3. Eco-Depot for household hazardous waste
  4. Compost for leaf & yard debris
  5. Central Landfill for trash

The goal of the Resource Recovery’s solid waste management system is to minimize waste generated and maximize waste reduction to extend the useful life of the Central Landfill.

Municipal Recycling Program: A History

1974: Created by RI General Assembly (RI Solid Waste Management Corporation)

1981: Purchased Silvestri landfill in the Town of Johnston

1986: RI Recycling Act became law (1st statewide mandatory recycling)

1988: Materials Recycling Facility opened, first programs began

1993: Phase I (original, unlined dump) closed

1993: Phase II of Central Landfill begins (sanitary landfill, lined)

1994: Municipal leaf and yard debris composting begins

1995: First major Materials Recycling Facility expansion

1995: Maximum Recycling program piloted in Foster and Scituate

1996: Changed name to RI Resource Recovery Corporation

1996: Signed agreement with EPA to cleanup Phase I

1996: Maximum Recycling program implemented statewide

1997: Landfill Expansion Phase III began

1999: Landfill Expansion Phase IV began

2001: Took over Eco‐Depot program for Household Hazardous Waste

2003: Statewide e‐Waste recycling offered

2004: Landfill Expansion Phase V began

2005: ReStore program for recycling plastic bags and film began

2006: Phase 1 cleanup successfully completed

2011: Received Wildlife at Work certification from WHC

2012: Second major Materials Recycling Facility expansion

2012: Recycle Together RI program launched statewide

2013: Received Gold Award in Recycling Systems from SWANA

2015: Landfill Expansion Phase VI began

2016: Implemented Recycle Across America standardized labels (1st state in the nation)

2016: Received Biggest Safety Improvement Award from SWANA

2018: Received Gold Award for Public Awareness Campaign from SWANA

2019: Received Best of Rhode Island award from Rhode Island Monthly

Other Recycling Initiatives

  • Technical Assistance Waste Audits - Resource Recovery offers waste audits to any commercial or institutional waste generators who are interested in implementing a recycling or source reduction program.
  • Education and outreach programs for schools (tours, teachers aids etc.) - Resource Recovery offers facility tours to Rhode Island individuals, families, and groups at no charge. Educators are also available for presentations on source reduction, recycling, and composting to school classes and other organizations throughout the state.
  • Composting - Resource Recovery's subsidized home compost bin sales continue to be popular with state residents, as is the availability of staff for technical assistance.
  • Recycling Hotline - Resource Recovery has increased the promotion of its recycling question hotline, which receives hundreds of calls each week from RI residents on all aspects of their recycling programs.
  • Social Media - Resource Recovery has a social media presence through its Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages, and a YouTube channel. The YouTube channel features “How-To” videos about RI’s recycling program, as well a virtual tours of the Resource Recovery facility.
  • Household Hazardous Waste Collection Program (Eco-Depot) - In March of 2001, responsibility for the management of the Eco Depot Household Hazardous Waste Facility was transferred to RIRRC from RIDEM. The days and hours of operation were increased significantly, providing more flexibility for RI residents wishing to properly dispose of their HHW. Since 2001, Eco-Depot has collected more than 1 million pounds of HHW.
  • Standardized labels - In 2016, Rhode Island became the first state in the nation to adopt standardized recycling labels from national non-profit Recycle Across America. To date, there are over 85,000 labels on display on recycling bins across the state.

Materials Targeted in R.I.'s Municipal Recycling Programs

Examples: Corrugated cardboard (OCC) Mixed residential papers, Newspapers, Paper shopping bags, Magazines/catalogs , Small corrugated containers, Paperboard, Milk cartons/juice boxes

Examples: Tinned steel cans, Aluminum cans, foil, plates, Empty aerosol cans 

Glass bottles and Jars
Examples: Glass food/beverage containers

Plastic Containers
Examples: PET containers up to 5 gallons, HDPE bottles and jugs up to 5 gallons, PP containers up to 5 gallons