Montgomery County Recycle Right “Oops Tag” Program

The Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is highlighting its Recycle Right “Oops Tag” Program to inform residents about materials that should not be placed in recycling bins.

DEP inspectors are visiting all residential areas where the county is responsible for recycling collection. Each neighborhood will be inspected two to three times. The program, which started in May, is being hailed as a success as with each inspection. Crews report finding fewer non-recyclable materials in residential recycling bins.

DEP aims to reduce the amount of non-recyclable material going to the recycling center. In 2020, the Montgomery County Recycling Center received about 7,500 tons (about 15 million pounds) of non-recyclable material. This represents about 22% of all non-paper recycling received at the recycling center.

“We know most people have good intentions when tossing items they believe are recyclable into their recycling bins,” said DEP Director Adam Ortiz. “We call this ‘wish-cycling,’ but not everything that is plastic or glass is recyclable. The ‘oops tags’ let people know the specific items in their bins that cannot be recycled. It is our hope that this targeted education will provide an ‘ah-ha’ moment for residents who want to recycle right.”

DEP teams are inspecting individual residential recycling bins looking for items that are not recyclable. If any non-recyclable materials are found, inspectors will tag the bin, identifying the items that are not recyclable. No materials will be collected from bins that receive a tag. Crews have found the recycling bin rejection rate is about 22% for the first week of inspections. By week three, the rejection rate typically drops to about 15%.

The most common non-recyclable items found in recycling bins are plastic bags, plastic wrap, hazardous or toxic product containers, electronics, packing peanuts or foam blocks used to protect items in shipments and home health care medical supplies.

For more information on how to properly dispose of materials, visit www.mygreenmontgomery.org.

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