The City of Helena offers several different recycling options:

  • City of Helena and Scratch Gravel Residents pay for recycling through residential solid waste fees, and can bring their household recycling (cardboard, paper, glass, plastic, tin & aluminum cans) to the Transfer Station at no additional cost. Bring your household recyclables to the Transfer Station with your solid waste permit, let the attendant know you are bringing recyclables, and you won't be charged. 
  • City renters who reside in 4-plex or smaller are eligible for a Renters Recycling Permit. Contact the Transfer Station for this.
  • If neither of these options apply you can still recycle at the Transfer Station as a cash customer. Our minimum charge is $6.00 and that allows you to recycle up to 220 lbs. The price will go up from that point. Our current per ton charge is $54.75. For more information on this, go to the Permits, Rate and Allowable Waste Page.
  • Bring recycling to any drop-off location, at no cost.

Christmas Tree Recycling Event

City of Helena Transfer Station

The City of Helena, in partnership with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, and Boy Scouts of America Troop 214, host an annual program called “Pine for Perch.” This program uses recycled Christmas trees to improve and preserve perch habitat in Canyon Ferry Lake. Each year, an average of 11 tons of trees are brought to the Helena Transfer Station, with an additional 300-400 collected by Boy Scout Troop 214. Since the program's inauguration dating back to the 1990s, over 70,000 recycled Christmas trees have been dropped into Canyon Ferry Lake.

With the help of several volunteers, the collected trees are strung together 50 at a time, on a steel cable and then weighted down with a concrete cinder block base. A helicopter then drops each string of trees into Canyon Ferry Lake near the Silos Recreational Area. Residents can bring their trees to the City of Helena Transfer Station anytime after Christmas, and beginning in January sanitation crews will be picking up trees that have been placed in alleys or boulevards for collection.


Boy Scout Troop 214 will also be picking up trees on December 30th and January 6th. Click this link, to register for a pickup. Please remember to remove all decorations from the trees!

For more information call: (406) 447-8094

What to Recycle

Corrugated Cardboard

The large blue containers around the community, and at the Transfer Station is where you can dispose of Corrugated Cardboard. Please remove all packing materials and break boxes down. We do not accept lightweight cardboard or paperboard. 

Cardboard is the second largest commodity recycled by the City of Helena, with over 900 tons being diverted from the landfill every year. 

Cardboard is also one of the most expensive commodities to recycle, the City pays Pacific Steel and Recycling $25 a ton to bail and process cardboard. Recycling is paid for through City of Helena and Scratch Gravel Residents residential solid waste fee, so keeping contamination rates low, help to keep solid waste fees low. 


Aluminum, Steel Cans, and Paper

All drop-off locations throughout the community, and the Transfer Station accept these recyclables: 

  • Aluminum- Beverage cans, TV dinner trays, foil, and food containers.
  • Steel Cans-Tin and steel food cans. Labels are okay.
  • Newspaper- Inserts and ads accepted.
  • Office Paper- White and pastel colors only
  • Magazines- Nothing thicker than ½ “. No books or large catalogs.

Please don't leave recyclables in plastic bags, or set outside of bins. This increases contamination rates, attracts vermin, and creates more work for our drivers. Do your part and recycle correctly. 

Here is what not to do: 


Glass and Plastic

Glass and Plastic is only accepted at the Transfer Station.

Broken glass can be a safety hazard to the public, and contamination rates in plastic are so high that the City made the decision to only accept these recyclables at this location. When you are coming to the Transfer Station keep these guidelines in mind when you recycle your plastic or glass: 

  • Mixed Container Glass- Clear, brown and green glass may be mixed. All lids, corns and flow-control inserts must be removed and disposed of
    • Rinse containers with water and leave no food residue in the recyclable containers.
    • Ensure recyclables are clean, dry, and empty after rinse. 
  • Plastics- #1 Clear Bottles, #1 Clear Trays, #2 Milk Jugs & #2 Colored. Rinsed/No Lids.
    • No black Plastics accepted. 

Contamination rates, distance to manufacture, and a volatile market make these two commodities more difficult to process. Glass is currently shipped to Momentum Recycling in Salt Lake City Utah, to be repurposed into insulation, costing the City close to $38,000 a year. Plastic is bailed and processed by Helena Recycling, costing $170 a ton, with an average of 60 tons being diverted from the landfill every year. 

In order to mitigate these two issues, the City has been working diligently to find a solution. This includes, applying for grants to purchase a plastic bailer, and also partnering with a group of MSU students to reduce the amount of contamination in glass recycling. Click the link to read the final report of the Montana State University Glass Recycling Improvement Project.(PDF, 49MB)

Glass and plastic is however accepted in our Curbside Recycling program, through Helena Recycling. Follow the link to sign up.

Yard Waste

Yard Waste such as tree limbs, grass clippings and leaves are accepted at the Transfer Station. Yard waste is deducted from your permits annual allowance. 

Did you know that yard waste, when disposed of in your trash can and sent to the landfill, decomposes and contributes to the amount of Green House Gases released into the atmosphere. 

Each year, 4000 tons of yard waste is diverted from the landfill. It is then mixed with biosolids from the Wastewater Treatment Plant and turned into compost available to the Helena community. Contact the Lewis and Clark Landfill for more information on compost!

Automotive Waste

A variety of automotive waste is accepted and recycled at the Transfer Station, this includes: 

Automotive Batteries- Store in an upright position and place in designated container in recycling area.

Motor Oil- This includes engine, transmission, hydraulic, and gear Accepted from residential users in quantities of 5 gallons or less per customer per day.  Do not mix antifreeze or other liquids. Cooking oil is not accepted. 

Antifreeze- Accepted in quantities of 5 gallons or less per customer per day. Do not mix with other liquids.



Lithium Batteries- Store in an upright position and place in designated container in recycling area.

Automotive Batteries- Store in an upright position and place in designated container in recycling area.

Alkaline Batteries- These batteries can safely be disposed of in your residential trash can. 





Where to Recycle 

  • Safeway - 611 N Montana Ave
  • Lewis and Clark County Fairgrounds - 98 W Custer Ave
  • Boeing - 3200 Skyway Dr, just past the Airport.
  • Across from Dale Harris Park (Dale Harris Park Address is 279 S Cruse Ave)
  • Grub Stake - 1450 Lincoln Rd West
  • Canyon Ferry Mini-Basket - 3012 Canyon Ferry Rd
  • Former Valley Sand and Gravel Excavation Site - McHugh Drive
  • Transfer Station -1975 N Benton Ave. 


Recycling Guides