On Monday, September 16th, Erica Carter, the Fairfax County Recycling Coordinator spoke to the Fairfax Master Naturalists at their quarterly meeting. The bottom line: Recycling in Fairfax County is very complicated! One reason it is complicated is that Fairfax County has standards for what can and cannot be recycled in their facilities based on what products its brokers will purchase. However, curbside haulers who use different brokers or buyers for their recycled items may have different standards. A RESIDENT MUST CHECK WITH THEIR OWN CURBSIDE HAULER TO DETERMINE THE STANDARDS FOR THEIR RECYCLING. E.g., American Disposal (call (703) 368-0500) and Republic do not use Fairfax County standards because they have their own buyers for processed recycling.
Glass breaks and contaminates other recycling so it is no longer accepted in County single stream recycling. Large purple containers are located near many County government centers where glass is collected for recycling. Learn more here.
Any kind of clothes hangers, hoses, cords and plastic bags are huge problems for the recycling facilities because they catch in the machines and must be detangled by hand. In addition, dirty diapers, takeout food containers and shredded paper cause other problems. PLEASE DON’T RECYCLE THESE ITEMS!
Good news about the receptacles for plastic bags located outside of grocery stores! Bubble wrap, plastic packing tear off balloons, and zip-lock bags which are clean and dry are also acceptable.
Buyers seek out recycled plastic when oil prices are high because it is less expensive than making new plastic; when oil prices are low recycled plastic is less in demand.
Fairfax County is currently recycling about 50% of the items that come to its two transfer stations. There is no landfill in Fairfax County. Unrecyclable material is incinerated and the resulting energy is used to provide electricity to 80,000 homes.