CORRECTING THE RECORD: It’s OK to Put Plastic Grocery Bags in my Recycling Bin

FICTION: Plastic bags are not accepted by the City’s recycling contractor. Only plastic items, labeled one through seven, are able to be processed.
Items OK for Blue CartVirginia Beach, with the help of an outside contractor, operates a robust recycling program​ to help reduce waste and pollution. Each year, they collect about 30,000 tons of recyclable material – about the weight of 15,000 cars. But not all recyclables are created equal.

Not all plastics can be processed through our recycling program. If a plastic item can be recycled, it’ll usually have a number, either on the label or stamped somewhere on it, that corresponds to the type of material it’s made from.  

Only items labeled one through seven can be processed by our contractor. Simply put, that number corresponds to a chemical recipe used to make a specific type of plastic. 

Plastic containers, like ones from restaurants for takeout or leftovers, and plastic grocery bags can’t be processed by our contractor since they’re not made from an accepted material. However, some grocery stores will accept plastic bags and take them to another vendor. From there, they’ll be processed by another company who can handle them and live a new life, usually as composite lumber.

Here are some other items that shouldn’t be placed in your recycling bin:
  • Household garbage
  • Waxed cardboard
  • Yard waste
  • Plastic toys and pools
  • Plastic motor oil containers
  • Styrofoam
  • Packing peanuts
For a complete list of acceptable items and materials, please visit the curbside services page at​. Or, give Waste Management a call at 385-4650 and one of the customer service representatives can assist you.

View the Waste Management Services brochure.

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