Roanoke’s Recycle Right Pilot Program increases good recycling bins

Published: Mar. 16, 2023 at 6:53 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Roanoke City launched the Recycle Right Pilot Program in October 2022, trying to educate the community about how to recycle correctly. After several months they say the initiative was successful.

We first told you about the launch of the Recycle Right pilot program in October.

Roanoke City leaders said not recycling right was costing taxpayers. This came from extra fees the city had to pay for taking trash found in recycling from the facility to the landfill.

From October to December of last year, city employees looked through recycling bins in Southwest Roanoke. If the bin had things like plastic bags, cords, hoses, wet waste, metal, or electronics, it was marked with an oops tag.

The city didn’t issue penalties or fees, but the recycling wasn’t picked up until they removed those materials.

Program leaders say when they started, 26% of bins were recycled correctly -- and by the end, that number went up to 49%.

“That means that we were able to reduce contamination in that targeted neighborhood by 31% and the number of good recycling carts almost doubled,” said Roanoke City’s Sustainability Program Assistant Megan Root. “So, it was able to make a huge difference even though it was just a small population in size that we were targeting this time.”

Recycle Right Pilot Program results.
Recycle Right Pilot Program results.(Roanoke City)

They say people were confused why they were looking through their bins, but some even got on board after they explained why.

Recycling can be confusing for many. Officials say only paper products, aluminum cans, plastics that say number 1 or 2, and glass go in the recycling bin.

Remember to take your recycling materials out of plastic bags, because they are not recyclable. Root says oftentimes recyclable materials in plastic bags get mistaken as trash.

Root says the team is currently focused on the city’s climate action plan, but hopes to expand the Recycle Right program in the near future to a larger population. They say the program takes a lot of planning and manpower, but it does help save the city money and avoid extra fees.

If you were part of the campaign and wish to give feedback. Click here to contact city officials with your thoughts.