Week 12 Recap: Recycling

Recycling is the process of converting waste materials into new materials. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, there are many benefits to recycling, including reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills and incinerators and conserving natural resources such as timber, water and minerals. However, in order to “Recycle Smarter” it’s important to understand what can and can’t be recycled through our local programs to help minimize contamination with non-recyclable materials.



Putting things into the recycling bin hoping that they will get recycled, even if they’re not specified as something that can be recycled through our municipal program.

Don’t practice “wish-cycling.” Items that don’t belong in a recycling bin can contaminate a load and lead to an entire load going to the landfill even if most of the items were recyclable. It’s one of the biggest issues facing waste management and poses a serious threat to the recycling industry.

Know What Can Be Recycled

Know what can be recycled in Blacksburg’s curbside program and don’t risk contamination by practicing “wish-cycling.” There is no longer sufficient market for plastics #3-7 to support collecting these in most municipal programs so the program is back to #1 and #2 plastic bottles, jugs and food containers. Leave out all other plastics. Avoid bagging your recyclables because bags interfere with the sorting process. Also leave out other items as identified here. We will be talking more about some of these later and where you can take them to be recycled.

Recycling Items that Can’t be Put in the Bin

The YMCA at Virginia Tech is an important recycling partner for the Town of Blacksburg, recycling tons of items every year. In addition to items that can be offered for sale, the Y Thrift Store also takes electronics items for recycling, including CPUs, monitors, televisions, DVD players, printers, keyboards, VCRs, miscellaneous computer accessories, (cords, mice, etc.). If these items are NOT WORKING, they can still be recycled, but please label them as not working to save the staff time checking their status. The Y also recycles textiles, but recycled items must still be wearable or otherwise useable. There is no longer a recycling market for clothing or linens that are torn or badly stained.

You can also bring rechargeable batteries, compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) and inkjet cartridges to the YMCA at Virginia Tech for recycling. This video shows the new recycling station at the Y, what is accepted and how to package it. A change from earlier years is that alkaline batteries are no longer recycled but instead are placed in the trash because there are no hazardous metals in them. If you want to avoid having to trash alkaline batteries, don’t buy them. Buy rechargeable batteries that can be used over and over and then are recycled when they’re spent.

Recycling Plastic Bags and Film

Don’t put your recyclables in a plastic bag because they can tangle up the equipment, but you can recycle the plastic bag and other plastic film in a collection box at the Blacksburg Community Center coordinated by the Blacksburg Junior Women’s Club. Plastic collected is used by Trex to make decking and outdoor benches.

When you donate your plastic film to NexTrex®, not only are you helping to keep thousands of pounds of waste out of landfills, you’re also helping Trex® to continue to make eco-friendly outdoor products.


Coming Up…

Week 13 starts tomorrow! Join us as we discuss ways we can Invest in or Donate to an Environmental Organization and why it helps. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook to see daily updates.

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