#1 Most Important Tip For Wake Forest Residential Recycling…”Keep It Loose”

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Is one of your New Year’s Resolutions to be a better steward of the environment? In casual conversations with friends and neighbors, I have come to realize that not everyone is aware of the most important rule when it comes to home recycling. Do you know the “Keep It Loose” rule? We need to keep all recycled materials LOOSE in the can. Recyclables tied in plastic bags are considered TRASH and are not opened up at recycling facilities.

So, if you gather your recyclables in a trash bag-lined container, tie it up and put it in your recycling bin…it is going to the landfill. The town doesn’t open the bags to pull out recyclables. Keep in mind, those trash bags (whether you are reusing a Target bag or using a Hefty bag) are not being recycled either. They get stuck in the sorting machines. Hence, the “Keep It Loose” rule. And this rule is standard for Wake County.  What should you do with all those plastic bags? Plastic bags are easy to reuse for a variety of purposes. But the best thing to do is to collect all your plastic bags, film and wrap and take it to a specific plastic drop off. Almost every grocery store (Harris Teeter, Lowes Foods, Walmart and many more locations) have drop-offs for plastic bags, film and wrap. As long as the plastic is dry and clean, it’ll stay out of the landfill.

Perhaps you already know about the “Keep it Loose” recycling rule and what to do with those grocery plastic trash bags. Let’s brush up on what can and can not be recycled when it comes to plastic. You know, those plastic containers numbered 1-7 numbers on the bottom.  What types of plastic can go in the Recycling Container:  Narrow-necked, screw-top bottles, such as soda bottles, dairy containers, plastic milk and water jugs and colored bottles labeled or imprinted with one of the following on the bottom of the container:

  1. PETE (Polyethylene Terephthalate): Fizzy drink bottles and oven-ready meal trays.
  2. HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene): Bottles for milk and liquid soap bottles.

  3. PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride): Food trays, cling film, mineral water, plumbing parts and outdoor decking/fencing, just to name a few.

  4. LDPE (Low Density Polyethylene): Grocery bags and bin liners.

  5. PP (Polypropylene): Margarine tubs, microwaveable meal trays.

  6. PS (Polystyrene): Yogurt pots, foamed meat or fish trays, hamburger boxes, egg cartons, vending cups, plastic cutlery, protective packaging for electronic goods and toys.

  7. OTHER: Any other plastics that do not fall into any of the above categories.


Recently, the Town of Wake Forest rolled out a Waste Wizard feature on the town website. The “Waste Wizard” is designed to help residential customers sort their waste properly. You can type in an item and the site will tell you whether to place it in the garbage or recycling bin. Please note that some materials are “banned” from the can and require you to either schedule an appointment or drop-off materials at a local facility.

Wake Forest was the first municipality in Wake County to offer roll-out co-mingled curbside community recycling utilizing a 48-gallon cart. Our recycling program has been cited nationwide for its high customer participation rate and rate of recycling. The Town of Wake Forest provides all single family households with a complimentary 48-gallon roll-out recycling cart and a 96-gallon roll-out garbage cart. Curbside recycling collection is provided weekly to all single family households. Recyclables must be separated from household trash and placed in roll-out cart. Additional recycling carts are available for a monthly charge of $3.51. For additional information about the town recycling program, click here.

Two more tips: those plastic clamshells “berry boxes” and pizza boxes are not recyclable…much to my dismay!


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