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GREEN LIVING BLOG

Start Smart, Recycle Right in 2021

COMMUNITY CENTERRecycling & ReusingJan 14, 2021Rebekah Eastep

Author: Rebekah Eastep

askHRgreen.org is working together with the region’s 17 cities and counties to encourage residents in the 757 to recycle right in the new year. The new Start Smart, Recycle Right campaign includes a three video animated series which takes viewers through the recycling journey, highlights what’s recyclable in Hampton Roads, and how contamination can compromise the recycling process.

Residents can “start smart” by being an informed consumer. Choosing to purchase items in recyclable (or without) packaging, skipping disposable products, and reusing containers are all simple ways residents can reduce waste. Simply grabbing your dozen eggs in a cardboard crate instead of Styrofoam, choosing reusable shopping totes over plastic bags, or reusing an empty glass jelly jar will reduce our region’s waste in a meaningful way.

And when it comes to recycling, we’re asking everyone to get back to basics. Paper products and empty/flattened cardboard boxes, plastic bottles with a neck or spout, and metal cans are universally accepted for recycling—no matter where you live in the region. If we all tossed in only those three items, empty and clean, we’d all be doing it right!

Another important part of recycling right is to make sure items are clean and dry. Paper items with food residue (like ice cream tubs or fast food containers) or plastic bottles not emptied of their contents cannot be accepted for recycling. Recyclable containers contaminated with food and “wishcycling” (recycling items you aren’t sure are accepted) contaminate the recycling stream and decrease the effectiveness of local recycling programs. Clamshell or Styrofoam containers, plastic bags, and plastic tubs (like those containing butter, yogurt, or sour cream) are not accepted in any local municipal recycling program at this time. Residents should only place items they know are recyclable and which are clean and dry in the bin. When in doubt, it’s actually better to toss it in the trash than your recycling bin.

To see a comprehensive list of which items are accepted for recycling in your community, check out the askHRgreen.org Recycling & Disposal Guide at askHRgreen.org/recycling. The helpful tool also features disposal information for items you can drop off at convenience centers, as well as specialty curbside services offered by some localities, such as bulk waste pickup and yard waste composting.

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