Virginia Recycling Association

Materials Collection Policy

Policy Statement

It is the policy of the Virginia Recycling Association (VRA) to support the collection and sorting of recyclable materials in a manner that provides optimal value and utilization of the material as a marketable commodity and as feedstock for the manufacture of new products.

Reason for Policy
The purpose of the Materials Collection Policy is to promote and support pre-sorting of recyclable materials prior to collection to ensure that valuable, marketable recyclable materials are not contaminated unnecessarily by other items.
The National Waste and Recycling Association states that approximately twenty-five percent (25%) of what goes into the recycling bin cannot be recycledi.

Who is/will be affected
Members, Public, Government, Suppliers, Manufacturers, Recycling and Solid Waste Industries, Consumers, Businesses

Supporting Information
There are three types of collection systems in place for trash and recycling:
• Source separated – consumer separates materials by type at the point of discard so they can be recycled.
• Single Stream – consumer places all recyclable materials in one bin, separate from the trash container
• All in One – consumer places all trash and recyclables in one bin with no separation.

The most common collection system used is single stream, which started in California in 1995ii. Single stream collection is not without fault, and approximately twenty five percent (25%) of the material put in the recycling bin is comprised of solid wastes including liquids, food waste, clothing, chemicals, and other “wishful recycling” items that decrease the quality of the recyclables and reduces their value.
In July of 2017, the high percentage of contamination in recyclable materials, received from the United States, prompted China to impose a ban on those imports. This action caused a monumental upheaval in the recycling industry and a high level of public interest in the continued viability of recycling collection and processing. The industry responded with a call for public re-education regarding recycling practices focusing on the reduction of recycling contamination.

One of the outcomes of the “China Ban” was the need for the industry to explain the value of recyclable material as a commodity and as a significant contributor to the U.S. economy. The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI)iii website has produced accurate and timely information on the value of these commodities through the following resources:
• ISRI Scrap Specifications Circular
• Recycling Industry Yearbook
• What is the Economic Impact in your area? (interactive page)

Recyclable Material: Raw or processed material that can be recovered from a waste stream and converted into new materials.
Solid Waste: Also called Municipal Solid Waste, is unwanted items that are discarded because they have served their purpose and no longer useful.
Recycling Contamination: Refers to the process of rendering a recyclable material unfit for use or nonconforming materials. This occurs when incorrect items or materials are put into the collection system or when the right items are prepared incorrectly
Feedstock: Refers to the use of recyclable materials as a source for the development of new materials. This would include chemical and industrial processing that breaks down the recyclable material through liquefaction, smelting, crushing, and shredding.

i Wright, B. (2018, November 15). NWRA Celebrates America Recycles Day. Retrieved from”contamination”
ii Goodyear, S. A Brief History of Household Recycling. Retrieved from
iii Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI). Retrieved from