Recycling in Fairfax County

By Linda Rosenberg

China used to take much of our recycling, but that is no longer the case. Although markets for recycling some plastics are being developed in our country, several types of plastic unfortunatel
y will just go into the landfill because there is no market for them. So I listened carefully to the Fairfax County webinar on recycling because I wanted to know specifically what plastics are recyclable.


American Disposal Services (ADS), our recycling company, is able to recycle No. 1 plastic with necks (e.g., water bottles, milk and orange juice jugs, soda bottles). If you put the caps back on the bottles, they will be recycled, too. ADS can also sell No. 2 plastic (like liquid detergent containers), which can be made into railroad ties and drainpipes. The last thing American Disposal can recycle is No. 5 plastic, like yogurt and tub butter containers, used to make paint cans.


EVERYTHING else goes to the landfill, and if we put it in our recycling, someone else just has to take it out. It is sobering to realize that the plastic and Styrofoam takeout containers from restaurants, for example, cannot be recycled (though they can be repurposed in our homes). One response is to support restaurants that use compostable containers and to encourage others to use them.


Note especially that plastic bags and thin plastic of any type really cause havoc with the machines. They can get wrapped around the equipment and slow down the process since a human must untangle them. Recycle this plastic at our local Safeway.

As we know, glass must not be put in our single stream recycling, but we are lucky to have a glass pick-up here at Lakeport the first Wednesday of every month. For more information, please see


An interesting fact is the reason we went to single stream recycling in the first place, that is, putting all recyclables together in the same container: It keeps trucks off the road, which is safer in a number of ways for all drivers and causes less pollution. The money saved by single stream is spent on the sorting at the end.


Food waste can be picked up by a composting company like Veterans Compost, which we (1915 Lakeport Way) use. Feel free to contact me at if you want more information.

Consult the chart below for a visual representation of what can “always” or “never” go into our recycling. If you want a great deal more detail, visit the Fairfax County site at

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