Know the Basic Rules of Recycling

By Elaine Simmons

If you stroll around the neighborhood on collection day, you will unfortunately see many blue recycling bins filled with items that will not be recycled. A major problem is that people put plastic bags full of plastic or metal containers directly in the bin. The County has made clear that any item in a plastic bag will be treated as trash. So if you collect your plastic and metal containers in a plastic bag, remove these items from the bag on collection day and place the items directly in your blue recycling bin. Then put the plastic bag in your trash can or reuse it as a trash bag. Never put plastic bags of any kind in your blue recycle bin.

This rule also applies to the County’s impressive new composting program, where you can place any food item in your green yard waste bin and it will be “cooked” and turned into loam. You can use the light green compostable bags to collect food waste or you can put food items directly in the bin. You can also collect food waste in a paper bag. Compostable bags and paper bags can go in your yard waste bin. Do not put plastic bags of any kind in your yard waste bin. You can buy compostable bags on-line or at the nearby MOM’s Organic Market on Lee Highway.

Finally, if you rake more leaves than your yard waste bin can hold, put the leaves in paper yard waste bags. This way the leaves will be turned into mulch. Do not collect leaves in plastic bags. The County provides free paper yard waste bags at various locations such as Thomas Jefferson Middle School. Home Depot and COSTCO sell paper yard waste bags.

The theme: limit use of plastic bags to collecting garbage. Environmentally speaking, the fewer plastic bags you use, the better.