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Local agencies start new recycling awareness program to combat confusion, ensure proper recycling

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Posted at 12:05 PM, Jan 16, 2021

CHESAPEAKE, Va. - You probably already recycle, but are you doing it right?

"There's been some confusion in the past around municipal recycling programs,” Katie Cullipher, the team leader with Ask HR Green, said.

That confusion has centered around what can be placed in recycling bins. Another issue is also how plenty of items have the recycle triangle logo, often leading people to think that items can be recycled outright.

That’s why Ask HR Green, a division of the Hampton Roads District Planning Commission, started "Start Smart, Recycle Right," a program aimed to break the confusion surrounding recycling.

"We're fortunate here in Hampton Roads, our programs are still thriving,” Cullipher said. “If we can recycle better, we can improve those programs."

Michael Benedetto, president of TFC Recycling, said recycling is cheaper than hauling garbage. He added there are benefits to recycling aside from reusing items such as paper, bottles and cans.

TFC Recycling processes recyclable items in its facility in Chesapeake that get brought in by municipal and private trucks.

“So when people talk about recycling is expensive, trash is four to six times more expensive than recycling,” Benedetto explained. “It's not creating new jobs; it's not helping the environment."

Benedetto said any kind of bottle that you can drink out of or pour down the drain can be recycled. Examples he mentioned include water bottles and laundry detergent bottles. He says they do not accept any containers including the clam-shell type containers, similar to the ones you can get a salad bars.
Plastic bags, he said, should stay out of the recycling bin, “because bags can get stuck in the sorting machines.”

Recyclables should strictly consist of paper, bottles and cans. Benedetto advised these items should not be tainted.

"Those items can include pizza boxes and food contaminated items,” Benedetto said. "We don't want oil containers, we don't want motor oil, antifreeze products, we don't want paint."

He said if you are not sure, “When in doubt, throw it out."

"If you focus on the basics and always do those things, you'll be doing it right,” Cullipher said.

More information on the "Start Smart, Recycle Right" program can be found on the program’s website by clicking here. There you will find resources, videos, and information for smart and proper recycling.