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It is a recycling education program to reduce contamination and improve the recycling system in our community. The program combines recycling education and recycling inspection at the curb to help improve peoples’ understanding of what to recycle and what causes contamination. We will inspect recycling carts in a targeted area and provide cart-tags that note what material should not be placed in the recycling cart. This program will focus on the Belmont-Fallon neighborhood and serve as a pilot in advance of a future city-wide effort.
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Recycling can be confusing. The City of Roanoke wants to help educate people on how to recycle right so that we can help our residents, our city, and our environment. Many of the common items that people throw in their recycling carts are actually not recyclable and can contaminate entire carts and even truckloads of potential recycled material. When the recycling load gets contaminated, it also costs the city an extra fee—once to take the item for recycling and another time to take it to the landfill.
The pilot project will focus on a section of the Belmont-Fallon neighborhood totaling 671 households. The Solid Waste Management and Sustainability departments will be checking the recycling carts from October – December 2022 for four consecutive cycles on alternating Wednesdays.
Households in the targeted area will receive a letter notifying them of the campaign details and a recycling information card that shows what can and can’t be placed in the recycling cart. These mailing materials will include the Spanish translation. A press release will be sent out in advance of the campaign, it will be promoted on social media, and program information can be found on the city’s website.
During four consecutive recycling cycles starting in October and ending in December, staff from the city’s Solid Waste Division and Office of Sustainability will be checking the contents of blue recycling carts with the targeted area on their scheduled recycling day. Cart-tagging staff will be wearing bright orange safety vests for easy identification. Recycling carts containing any of the top five contaminants will be tagged with an ‘Oops Tag’ to identify the non-recyclable materials and will not be serviced. The non-recyclable materials must be removed from the cart in order to be serviced on the next scheduled recycling day.
Contamination occurs when garbage and non-recyclable materials are placed in the recycling carts with good recycling materials. Contamination increases the cost of processing recyclables, undermines the good habits of those who practice proper recycling, and limits the ability of the recyclables to be made into new products. Loads of recycled materials must be taken to the landfill if there are too many contaminants.
The top 5 contaminants in the City of Roanoke are:
If your cart receives an ‘Oops Tag’ it is because we found material that cannot be recycled in your recycling cart. After your cart has been tagged, it will not be picked up that week. Once you remove the materials marked on the cart tag, your cart will be serviced on the next scheduled collection day. There will be no fines associated with this program.
Please always recycle: aluminum and steel cans, glass, paper products, and plastics #1 and #2. For a full list of what can and can’t be recycled, as well as resources for where to take items that can’t be put in your recycling cart, please visit www.roanokeva.gov/recycle.
Some key benefits to recycling are:
Information that identifies the most problematic contaminants will be collected in order to help direct future decisions on targeted recycling education efforts. Contamination rates will be measured before, during, and after the campaign to determine if the tagging process is improving recycling knowledge and behavior. No personal information will be gathered during the process or removed from the carts.
Please do not bag your recyclables. Plastic bags are often mistakenly placed in recycling carts because many bags show a recycling symbol. Unfortunately, plastic bags are not able to be recycled at our recycling facility and can actually harm people and recycling equipment when they get tangled in the machines. Also, when recyclable items are placed in plastic bags, they can get confused with trash and taken to the landfill. The best place for recycling plastic bags is often local retail stores. Visit www.plasticfilmrecycling.org to find a list by zip code of locally participating plastic film retail return locations. If you cannot take the plastic bags to a retailer, please use them for other purposes or put them in your trash cart.
You can bring these plastic items to one of Sustainable Roanoke’s recycling events, which you can find more information here: https://www.sustainableroanoke.org/
You can bring used batteries and other items to Roanoke Valley Resource Authority’s (RVRA) Household Hazardous Waste events. These free monthly collection events take place the third Saturday of each month, beginning at noon for residents of the Cities of Roanoke and Salem, Roanoke County and the Town of Vinton. Preregistration is required to bring items to these events, and you must register no later than 24 hours prior to the event. Cut off is at noon the Friday prior to the event. You can see more information and register online at https://rvra.net/110/Monthly-Collection-Events or call 540-857-5050.
You can bring any metal you need to recycle to Gerdau Metal Recycling, located at 2580 Broadway Ave SW, Roanoke, VA 24014. Depending on the type and quantity of metal, you may even be able to receive money for your items. Visit their website to learn more: Metal Recycling Made Easy - Gerdau
You can bring electronics and other household appliances to stores such as Best Buy and Staples, or if they are in working condition you can donate them to the Salvation Army or Goodwill. It is recommended to give them a call beforehand to make sure they accept the items you hope to recycle or donate, as things may differ from location to location.