It’s been almost five months since crews across Central Virginia started examining recycling bins a bit closer. Workers now look for contaminants, like plastic bags and styrofoam, and tag bins that don’t pass the test. “I see some problems in this one,” said Jerrell Pettiford with TFC Recycling, gesturing to items that are not supposed to end up in the bin. On that one street, Pettiford slapped on three stickers.

He’s been working for TFC Recycling for four years and can spot contaminants quickly while out on the job. TFC Recycling is just one contractor that works with the Central Virginia Waste Management Authority to handle waste across the region. CVWMA says it’s given out countless stickers in just the first few months of the program. “It’s been in the thousands that we have put out,” said Kim Hynes, Executive Director of the Central Virginia Waste Management Authority. “That’s all over the region. We collect from 280,000 households in the region.”

When bins have those contaminants inside — residents get an “Oops!” sticker — but the bin is left full along the curb. “They will leave it behind and not collect it until it is corrected,” said Hynes. “The cleaner we get the recycling stream, the more valuable it is and we’ll keep those costs low to residents and local governments,” she added.

As this program continues, Central Virginians are cleaning up their act. And CVWMA says the mistakes being made are usually by accident. “A lot of folks have been very responsive, “said Hynes.

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