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Posted on: December 14, 2018

Give the Gift of Waste-Free Recycling: Loudoun County Offers Holiday Recycling Advice

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According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, American households generate about 25 percent more waste than usual from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day, over one million tons more per week. Loudoun County recycling experts have some advice designed to help reduce that waste. While it is important to recycle as much as possible, it is equally important to keep the waste out of recycling. Here are some ways to do that:

  • Label your kitchen recycling bin with “Recycling Bottles and Cans Only.” This will help friends and family gathering for the holidays to keep trash out of the recycling, including paper plates, napkins, plastic plates and utensils, and food scraps - none of which are recyclable through local recycling programs. Placing labeled recycling bins near trash cans in other areas, such as a game room, deck and patio, will also help capture more bottles and cans.
  • Recycle paper gift wrap, tissue paper, and greeting cards. Metallic, plastic, glittery or other non-paper wrapping and bows are not recyclable and should go in the trash.
  • Keep ribbons, garland, wire and twine out of recycling because they will jam the sorting equipment at recycling facilities. Save reusable items for next year.     
  • Most of the packaging used for toys, dolls, batteries and tools is not recyclable. Only the paper or cardboard component is recyclable and must be separated from the plastic and other non-paper items. All other parts of the package, including plastic, fasteners such as twist ties and rubber bands, and Styrofoam should go in the trash.       
  • Cardboard boxes may be recycled only after all non-paper items such as Styrofoam, bubble wrap, and plastics are removed and discarded or recycled through alternative programs. Sending boxes filled with Styrofoam and other contaminants for recycling reduces processing efficiency and devalues the cardboard as a commodity. 
  • Keep it clean. Curbside recycling service providers only want empty and relatively clean bottles, cans, jugs, jars, paper and cardboard. Lids may remain on plastic bottles. If in doubt, leave it out until you are able to review guidelines available from your service provider. Recyclables should be dumped loosely into your curbside recycling bin and covered to prevent litter. Bagged recyclables are likely to be discarded as waste at recycling facilities. Additionally, plastic bags are not accepted for curbside recycling or at public recycling centers because they get tangled in the machinery at recycling facilities and cause significant down time to have the bags removed. This includes paper bags with a plastic liner and pet food bags as well.  

Need to unload some recycling prior to curbside pickup?  Find the nearest collection center by visiting You will also find a link to information about county-sponsored Christmas tree recycling. You may also check with your curbside service provider for Christmas tree recycling collection schedules.

For more information on recycling in Loudoun County, contact the Loudoun County Department of General Services at 703-771-5500 or by email.  

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