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Materials Recovery Facility Recycling Tour-Phoenix

Have you ever thought about how recycling actually works but weren’t sure how it gets done? Well, there is a Public Works Recycling Tour in North Phoenix. It’s free, informative and safe for kids even in strollers to enjoy!

Tours need to be scheduled ahead of time, Tours take place on Thursdays between 9am and 2pm (as of 2018), and it is wheelchair and stroller accessible! It is also away from the mess, so your child won’t be running off and getting their fingers (or bodies) in places they shouldn’t be!


The facility is located near the Anthem area in Phoenix at 30205 N Black Canyon Highway and is accessible off the i17 N exit (Dixileta Dr). There is NO southbound exit, so you will have to flip around on Jomax and go back north.

My GPS actually had the address in the middle of a bridge, so I was happy to have sort of memorized the directions so I knew where to go. The second time around!

When you get off of the Dixileta exit, make sure you bear right, otherwise you end up on the i17 going southbound. You don’t want to go back this way! I had already done this last year when we went to the Illumination Festival of Light.

The tour is at gate three, and it was well signed. Gate three is the last gate! Follow the signs to the administrative and visitors office. Parking is easily accessible to the front entrance. At the entrance, there was a small lobby and waiting area plus a meeting room, as well as public bathrooms. The women’s room was pretty tight (no diaper changing facility), so if you do have a stroller for the tour, it will be good to leave it in the lobby if possible.

The tour is about an hour long and takes place above the recycling facility. There are a few sets of stairs to go up to the very nicely airconditioned and clean viewing area!

city of phoenix public works

This hallway had tons of windows looking at both the recycling side and the garbage that is left over. There were tons, and tons, and TONS of garbage and recycling.

The whole process isn’t fully automated. People pick through to find items that are not recyclable-such as blankets (we saw one), garbage bags, grocery bags and more. They can’t pick through all of it, but try to get through as much as possible. Then, the remainders are picked at different sections: cardboard, plastics, aluminum and more.

If something gets trapped inside of the machine and stops it up, such as grocery bags or ropes, the machine needs to be shut down and the item cut out of the machine. This is a pretty dangerous job!

REcycling window Phoenix Public Works

The windows can open, so don’t have your kids sit against them or push on them, just in case! Our kids were fascinated by all the conveyor belts!

On the other side of the hall was a window overlooking all of the trash. There were piles over 3 stories high. It is all of the items that are put into recycling but not recycled and then taken to the dump. Trucks go into tunnels underneath the facility and get filled with the trash, it is covered and then brought to the landfill in Buckeye. The amount of trash per day (6 days a week) fills tons and tons of trucks that drive 60 miles each way to get rid of the trash. So, having these tours hopefully will open up people’s minds about what can be recycled and how we can be more earth-friendly.

As for the materials that are recycled-many different companies come in and purchase the materials. Paper and cardboard are baled and sold. Plastics are separated by plastic type, and metal by metal type. Each type can only have a small percentage of contamination or it will not be accepted. Therefore, it is important to make sure your recycled items are not mixed items (like a potato chip bag that has metal and plastic in it). This contamination will not allow the items to be recycled and can cause a great deal of acceptable items to end up being thrown away instead of being recycled.

This tour was really amazing, and kid friendly! The tour guide was really great with kids and adults questions, plus there was a small interactive area at the end of the tour with things for kids to push, bump and play. Plus, who doesn’t like watching all the trucks and machinery? While there were places where it was a bit smelly, it was definitely manageable for a mom and three (or more) kids!

Top tips for Recycling from the Public Works Recycling Tour in Phoenix

  • Don’t put grocery bags in your recycling bin. It is best to bring them to your grocery store where they are picked up by people who can recycle them
  • Do not put your recyclables in a plastic garbage bag (other than shredded paper)
  • Just because it has a recycleicon, doesn’t make it recyclable 

The Basics

Scheduling a  tour

Tours of the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF)

.   Tours take place on Thursdays between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. and they must be scheduled at least three weeks in advance.

Important: Your scheduled tour will start on-time. Please arrive at least 5 minutes early to your tour. If you need to cancel your tour, we require 24 hours notice.

Fill out the form for the tour

You can also visit the website for more events, educational opportunities, and business partnerships!




  1. […] Materials Recovery Facility Recycling Tour […]

  2. Jae Vonne Teague on January 3, 2020 at 4:13 pm

    Hello, is this information still accurate for February 2020? We would like to bring our 4 year old.

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