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The Ultimate Guide to Recycling Plastics in Kanawha County


Plastic is one of the most commonly found materials in modern society – it is used for everything from food packaging to building materials and children’s toys. Mass production of plastics began in the 1950’s, and, by 2012, it made up almost 13% of the materials Americans threw away. Plastics were only 3% of the materials we recycled that year.

To better service area residents, West Virginia Recycling Services (600 Slack Street, Charleston) is expanding the types of plastics they accept. The company will now accept plastic items labeled #1 - #7. They previously accepted only plastics #1 and #2. This expansion also affects the materials accepted by several municipal curbside pickup and drop off services in the area (read on to see a full list).

Plastic is one of the most important materials to recycle – one plastic bottle can take hundreds and even thousands of years to break down in a landfill. Much of our plastic ends up in waterways and follows currents to the ocean. The largest landfill in the world is located in the Pacific Ocean. When littered, it is common for plastic and the chemicals contained therein to be consumed by wildlife.

Turn your plastic into something new. This guide will provide you with all you need to know to easily and confidently recycle your plastic across Kanawha County.

How can I tell if my plastic is recyclable?

Turn the item over and look for a recycling symbol on the bottom. The symbol looks like a triangle made out of chasing arrows with a number from 1 to 7 inside. The symbol is imprinted on the plastic. Each number represents a different type of plastic resin.

You may now recycle all plastics labeled #1 - #7 at West Virginia Recycling Services - this extends to several cities and towns in the area (see next section). However, plastics #1 and #2 remain the most commonly recycled materials. If you are uncertain whether or not an item you have in recyclable, call the municipality or business in advance or contact us.

There are some items that are recyclable through West Virginia Recycling Services that may surprise you like Styrofoam and plastic bags (check for a recycling symbol!). See a complete list of accepted materials at the bottom of this page.

Which cities and towns now accept plastics #1 - #7?

Curbside recycling pickup services in the following cities and towns will change to accepting plastics #1 - #7:
  • Charleston
  • South Charleston
  • Dunbar
  • Belle
  • Marmet
  • Chesapeake
The recycling drop off location for residents of Nitro will also now accept plastics #1 - #7.

See a complete list of recyclable materials accepted by each municipality.

Which businesses in the area accept plastics?

There are multiple businesses in the area that will accept your plastic items. WV Cashin Recylables (Nitro) will accept plastic beverage bottles labeled #1 and #2, Lowe's will take nursery plastics like pots and trays plus Kroger's and other retail locations will accept plastic bags. Find a complete list of businesses in the area that recycle plastics.

How do I prepare my plastics for recycling?

Here are some tips for getting your plastics ready:
  1. Check for a recycling code (triangle with a number inside) on the bottom of the item. If you cannot find a code, the item isn’t recyclable.
  2. Containers must be empty, but they do not have to be spotless.
  3. It is not necessary to remove your labels and/or bottle caps.

How are plastics recycled?

Step 1: Your recycling is collected and driven to a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) where it is separated by material type.

Step 2: The plastics are flattened and compacted into large cubes, or bales, so they are easily transportable. They are then sent to another facility.

Step 3: The materials are cleaned and, following, sorted into different plastic types #1 - #7.

Step 4: The plastics are ground into flakes, which are washed and sorted again. Depending on the type of plastic, the flakes are either decontaminated using a chemical solution or melted down and sieved to form beads as the plastic cools.

Step 5: These beads and flakes can be melted down again and turned into new products. This can include many types of new items such as packaging, drainage pipes, garden furniture and plastic bottles.

Which plastic materials does West Virginia Recycling Services accept?

Recycling Code  Do Recycle Do Not Recycle
Can be Recycled Into
Soft drink, water or other beverage bottles; detergent and cleaning containers; food containers; salad dressing and cooking oil bottles   Polar fleece, fiber; tote bags; furniture; carpet; paneling; new bottles or containers
 Milk and water jugs; laundry detergent and containers; shampoo bottles   Laundry detergent bottles; recycling containers; floor tile; benches; doghouses; picnic tables; fencing
Clear food packaging or clear wrap; detergent and window cleaner bottles; plastic squeeze bottles PVC pipe; shower curtains; flooring, home siding and window and door frames Decks; paneling; mud flaps; flooring; cables; speed bumps; mats

Bread, cereal and dry cleaning bags; grocery bags; most plastic wraps; squeezable bottles   Trash-can liners and cans; compost bins, shipping envelopes, paneling, lumber, landscaping ties, floor tile

Yogurt cups; butter containers; baby bottles and lids Disposable diapers; carpet; house wrap Signal lights; battery cables; brooms; brushes, scrapers, landscape borders, bicycle racks, rakes, bins, pallets, trays
Disposable cutlery; clamshell food container; packaging; egg cartons Building and other insulations Insulation; light-switch plates; egg cartons; rulers; foam packing; carry-out containers
Lids; medical storage containers; “sport” water bottles; metal food can liners   Bottles; plastic lumber applications

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The Kanawha County Solid Waste Authority is the central resource for waste reduction in the county with a focus on the education and awareness of sustainable techniques and initiatives.

Kanawha County
Solid Waste Authority
600 Slack Street
Charleston, WV 25301
(304) 342-4477

Monday - Friday 8:00am-5:00pm