January 22, 2021
Please don’t recycle the vacuum cleaner!


By Mary Reid Barrow


Some time back, I saw a neighbor getting ready to drop her old vacuum cleaner into her blue recycling can.  My jaw dropped.

It’s plastic, she said, when I asked her what in the world she was doing.

Yes, there was the molded plastic on the vacuum’s handle and some other parts, but even those were not  recyclable plastics.  And not in your wildest dreams could a whole vacuum cleaner ever qualify for the recycling bin!

Can you imagine the look on the  faces of the Public Works folks when the saw a vacuum cleaner come down the conveyor belt?

Though most of us don’t have lapses that bad, it is hard sometimes to do the right thing when it comes to remembering do’s and don’ts for the blue can.  I am a real rule follower and I still have trouble.  I forget to collapse a box, take the top off of a bottle or jar or rinse out the cans.

A refresher always helps.  Here are the guidelines from the city of Virginia Beach recycling guide.  I keep this guide  posted on my refrigerator and you can find a guide and more in the link at the bottom of the blog:

PLASTIC. The wrong plastic in the blue bins is a cause of a lot of the contamination. The ONLY plastic that is recyclable is empty plastic bottles,  numbers 1-7 found on the bottom of the bottle, and NOT the bottle caps no matter what they are made of.   Make sure the bottles have no liquid in them.

Remember NO PLASTIC BAGS AND NO PLASTIC CLAM SHELLS, the  containers that store things like lettuce or baked goods.

Storing recyclables in plastic bags defeats the purpose of recycling.  Take plastic bags to your local grocery store to be recycled.  Better yet, carry reusable shopping bags whenever possible.

PAPER.  Paper includes office paper, envelopes, newspaper, magazines, junk mail, phone books and paper bags,  It does  NOT include  paper towels or napkins because they usually have food on them.


CARDBOARD. Cardboard should be flattened, clean and dry.  Paper towels, cereal boxes and toilet paper roils are OK. As for pizza boxes, recycle the lids, but the rest of the box will probably have food on it.

CARTONS. Waxed milk and juice cartons are OK. Rinse out all the liquid.

ALUMINUM, STEEL AND TIN FOOD AND BEVERAGE CANS are all fine, but rinse them.  NO lids.

GLASS BOTTLES AND JARS,  rinsed, are  good too, but again, NO lids.

And please NO vacuum cleaners!

Link to City of Virginia. Beach Public Works recycling guidelines:

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