What goes where? Part 6: Recycling

After deciding which items are donatable, one of the most difficult parts of our job is deciphering what remaining objects are trash vs. which are recyclable. Every city has different rules about what can and cannot be recycled, and Richmond is pretty picky about what they will accept. Below is a guide specifically for the metro-Richmond area. 


4451627497_f2e7d1690f_zDifferent neighborhoods have different recycling programs, but most allow 1 green bin per pick-up (usually every other week). If you find yourself with an abundance of recyclables you can usually take them to your county dump and they will have different receptacles for recycled goods. Save yourself time by pre-sorting items before you go.

Reference the CVWMA recycling wizard to determine recycling sites for paint, automotive parts, propane tanks, and other bulky items.

The most common mistake Richmonders make when recycling seems to be knowing what plastics the city is willing to take. There is a really great article that breaks down which kinds of plastics constitute each number. Richmond only recycles plastics #1 (items like water bottles – but not the lids) and #2 (items like: milk jugs, juice and bleach bottles). Any other plastics, unfortunately, are considered trash.

Many people make the mistake of putting their recyclables in plastic trash bags which are not made of #2 plastic and therefore not recycled by the city of Richmond. Better to use a brown paper bag from a local grocery store.

The following is directly from the CVWMA website:

Do NOT Include These Items in Your Bin or Cart or Personal Container(s):

Please DO NOT include the items below.
X Foam Products and Carryout Packaging
Including cups, takeout boxes, and packaging materials (like peanuts). We can’t accept them because we don’t have a market for them in this area.

X Plastic Bags of ANY kind
Do not recycle plastic bags in our bins or use them to hold extra materials. Plastic bags can cause equipment damage at the processing facility when they get wrapped around moving parts. Recycle at local retail stores
X Food-contaminated items
Such as pizza boxes or aluminum foil. Any food left on your containers may attract pests to your recycling bin. Food residue also contaminates the materials and make them unrecyclable.
X Juice Boxes or Milk Cartons
These are made of plastic-coated paper or cardboard, but can’t be recycled with regular paper or cardboard. If you thought these were included in the past, you’re right, however our market for them has declined and we can no longer accept them.
X Plastics Other than Bottles marked with a 1 or 2
Including sour cream containers, yogurt cups, etc. Reuse them at home to hold small things or throw them away.
X Lids or Caps
Remove and throw away plastic or metal caps/lids from accepted bottles or jars before putting them in the bin. The plastic lids are made from a different material than the plastic bottles we do accept and become a contamination when mixed with them. The metal lids often contain several additional layers, including plastics.

Now that you’re a pro on Richmond’s recycling policy, spread the word and help tell your grandparents once and for all that they can’t recycle their styrofoam to go box they got from Denny’s. 🙂

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