7/5/2018 - Changes in Single Stream Recycling

As of July 1, 2018, the Montgomery Regional Solid Waste Authority (MRSWA) only accepts plastic number 1 (PET) and 2 (HDPE) and no longer accepts plastic numbers 3 through 7 in Montgomery County, Blacksburg and Christiansburg. 

This recycling rule change only affected a small amount of materials. The majority of the plastic containers that people use in daily life, such as soft drink bottles, milk jugs and shampoo bottles, are number 1 and 2 plastic. Only about 3-5 percent of the materials that enter the center are 3-7 plastic recyclables.

The MRSWA offers single stream recycling, which means residents do not have to sort recyclables. As long as the recyclable is on MRSWA's single stream recycling list, it can be placed into one collection container. 

The MRSWA began enforcing a modified list of recyclable items on July 1. The new modified list does not include telephones books, bagged shredded paper, aluminum food containers and plastic number 3-7. Instead, these should now be tossed into the landfill garbage bins.

The goal of the new recycling list is to reduce the level of contamination in the single stream recycling process. According to Teresa Sweeney, education and training coordinator at MRSWA, there are currently no markets for plastic 3-7 because China, who has been purchasing these lower grade plastics, has stopped taking them. In addition, plastic 3-7 is a high cause of contamination in mixed paper. The high contamination may also affect the quality of other recycle products in the single stream system.

The MRSWA is facing a $53/ton charge in the future because of the high contamination in the single stream recycling system. The goal of the modified list is to reduce the charge to $0/ton in the future. 

To learn more about the Montgomery Regional Solid Waste Authority, visit www.mrswa.com.

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