Changes to recycling plastics in Roanoke, New River Valleys

ROANOKE, Va. – Recycling in the Roanoke and New River Valleys has some new rules. 

Due to a change in the market, certain plastics won't be accepted. If your plastic has any number between 3 and 7 on the bottom, it's no longer accepted in the bins. 

"It's really going to require people to start looking at the bottoms of their cans or containers to see if they have the triangle and a 1 or a 2 that we're going to accept," said Nell Boyle, sustainability coordinator for the city of Roanoke. 

The 3 through 7 plastics used to be accepted, but China, the major consumer of those plastics, has stopped taking them.

"3 through 7 plastics are only 2 percent of what we're recycling, so your ones and twos are mostly what you're recycling anyway," said Mary Ann Brenchick, executive director for the Clean Valley Council.

Water bottles and milk jugs are still recyclable.  But, Styrofoam, hard plastic containers, plastic bags, and packaging with mixed materials are the threes through sevens. Those will not be accepted. 

"You're mostly doing the right thing so just keep doing that and doing more of it," said Brenchick.

Recyling advocates in the valley say the new rules shouldn't stop you from recycling. It's just a little change that may take some getting used to. 

"Just be mindful of those little triangles and read the number," said Brenchick.

City officials said China may resume its demand for plastics 3 through 7 -- but they don't expect that to happen any time soon.