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Are you recycling the right way this Thanksgiving?

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Posted at 2:40 PM, Nov 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-25 17:57:01-05

CHESAPEAKE, Va. - The holidays are here which means the trash in your home is likely to pile up, but knowing what to recycle and what to just throw away can be confusing.

Luckily for people living in Hampton Roads, the folks at TFC Recycling in Chesapeake are experts.

President of TFC Recycling Michael Benedetto said, "We actually get recyclable materials from over half a million residents." The company serves the south-side of Hampton Roads, the peninsula and Richmond.

One walk through the facility and you can see, despite TFC's best efforts, there's a lot of materials that end up where they shouldn't be.

On a tour, News 3 reporter Erin Miller spotted a gardening hose, child's toy and helium tank mixed in with what was supposed to be only recyclables.

Items like gas tanks, batteries, propane tanks, paint and aerosol cans cause extra cause for concern. Benedetto said, "[they're] flammable liquids that have the ability to explode at some point in time."

Unfortunately Benedetto said it's a common occurrence for people to recycle items that aren't recyclable; specifically plastic bags.

It may seem harmless, but when people try to recycle plastic bags the company needs to bring in more man-power to remove them before they end up tangled in a machine.

"We're using mechanical separation and we want material to fall and if things wrap, then they compromise the following ability," Benedetto said. "It could be minutes or hours worth of downtime when the wrong materials get placed inside the container."

When you're preparing dinner this Thanksgiving keep in mind that disposable products like knives plates and cups aren't recyclable.

Don'ts of recycling:

  • Don't recycle plastic bags or plastic wrap
  • Don't bag recyclables (keep them loose)
  • Don't recycle tanglers, cords, hoses or ropes
  • Don't recycle flammables
  • Don't recycle food, liquid or pizza boxes (empty all containers)
  • Don't recycle Styrofoam (carryout or packing material)

So what should you recycle as the trash piles up this holiday season?

"That paper bag that your food came in, your shopping bag, your plastic bottles if you're using any of those in the aluminum cans that might come from a Thanksgiving meal. We're looking for paper, bottles and cans," said Benedetto.

  • Paper: flattened cardboard, newspaper, magazines, mail
  • Bottles: kitchen, laundry, plastic bottles & jugs (empty, rinse & remove cap)
  • Cans: aluminum and steel food & beverage cans (empty & rinse)
  • Glass: bottles and jars (empty, rinse & remove lid)
  • Cartons: food and beverage cartons (empty, rinse & remove cap)

Before you toss it, a good rule of thumb is to check the list above.

"Recycling is here to stay. It's creating jobs, it's good for the environment. We want people to do it, we want people to do more of it," Benedetto said.