What, Where & How Can I Recycle?


Did you know each locality in Virginia must recycle at least 15% - 25% of their waste depending on population?
How Much Did Your Community Recycle Last Year?

Because recycling program vary from city-to-city, you must find out what programs exist locally in your community. We have provided the following links as ways to get in touch with the county employees who organize recycling services where you live and the companies that provide recycling services close to you.
Resources for Recycling Where You Live
Interested in starting a recycling program for your school or business? Here is a guide to how to start a successful program.
Most local recycling programs are for residential use and do not provide recycling service to schools and businesses. However, we know how important it is to have recycling available outside of the home so we have put together some information to help you get a recycling program started anywhere. 
Depending on the types of materials you would like to recycle, there are a number of options in Virginia for school or business recycling programs. You will need to consider three things to implement a successful school or business recycling program: service, containers and education. See below for information about each of these.
The Benefits of Starting a Recycling Program
There are many advantages, financial and otherwise, an organization can experience after implementing a program to reduce, reuse and recycle.
· Create Lower Disposal Costs
· Save Money by Eliminating Unnecessary Items
· Improved Public Relations Image
· Improved Employee Morale
· Lower Costs By Buying Bulk or Using Minimal Packaging
· Lower Costs by Reusing Products and Supplies
· Receive Revenue From Recovered Materials
· Lower Costs by Purchasing Products Made from Recovered Materials
You may need to discuss your plans with a Principal or Supervisor, so be equipped with the beneficial information to help your conversation go smoothly.
Select a Waste Reduction Coordinator
If you are reading this article, this person is probably you, someone who understands the organization's structure and works well with both management and employees. You may want to form a committee if your organization is large. 
What Can be Recycled?
Start with one or two commodities. Determine what you are currently throwing away and the quantities of each. For example, schools generate a lot of white paper in the classrooms, and possibly soda cans and bottles in the cafeteria and teachers' lounge.  The kitchen area is possibly generating quite a few steel cans and plastic bottles.  Ask your janitor, take notice of what's thrown away and talk to co-workers.
Here is a list of readily recyclable materials:
· Aluminum
· Cardboard
· Glass Jars and Bottles
· Newspapers
· Office Paper
· Mixed Paper
· Plastic Bottles
· Steel Cans
Who Will Service the Program?
First, check the VRA’s Business Directory. You can also use the telephone directory for recyclers in the area, looking under the headings of "recycling" and it's variations. Call around to determine the best ones for your needs.
Remember, you may be able to reduce your costs for waste disposal through less frequent collections once your recycling program is implemented.  Schools may wish to partner with their Parent-Teacher organization for assistance funding a recycling program.
What Type of Containers Should We Use to Collect the Materials?
You will find the most success when you make recycling easiest for your audience.  Provide one recycling container next to each trash container.  That way, your audience doesn't have to search for a container to do the right thing.  Plan to provide one recycling container for each classroom or office, as well as in common areas, such as lounges and copy rooms.
There are many companies that sell recycling containers.  You may search on the internet or may find some locally at office supply stores or home improvement centers.  Or you can make your own by applying informational stickers to common containers such as plastic storage totes, available at Wal-Mart or Target.  
Educate your Audience about your Program
If you need assistance with educating your target audience about your new recycling program, please locate your local recycling office and ask for educational materials for children or adults that emphasize the importance and value of recycling.  Your local recycling coordinator may also provide presentations that can be customized to your audience. 
One last tip:  Encourage your local government to provide recycling at schools and county offices!  Have students write letters to local officials asking that recycling be provided since Virginia Standards of Learning require students be taught the value of recycling. Here is a template for a letter to send to a school board or city council/board of supervisors.
Some information in this article was reprinted from Less Is More: A Guide to Reducing Waste and Improving Profit by permission of St. Louis-Jefferson Solid Waste District.
The VRA has over 150 members who are professional working in the recycling industry in Virginia. If the links above did not provide the answer to your recycling question, give us a call at 804-302-4231.