Under the motto of “Zero Waste,” the District Department of Public Works has issued new regulations, effective Jan. 1, expanding the number of items for residents to recycle. The list is now the same for residential and commercial users. But there is some confusion.
For instance, under the plastic category, no plastic bags, straws or utensils nor items made from foam polystyrene (often mistaken for Styrofoam, which is banned in the District) can be recycled. Bulky plastic items such as old buckets can be recycled as long as they are clean.
Pizza boxes are now recyclable, along with other paper goods such as magazines, newspapers, books, phone books, junk mail and office paper. However, to be recycled, pizza boxes — like paper and plastic plates, cups, bottles and other food containers — must be clean and empty of any trace of organic material.
The same goes for metal and glass items, including steel and aluminum bottles, cans and containers. Paint cans are still not accepted. As for glass recyclables, no windows or ceramics are accepted.
Almost all food-service containers can now be recycled. However, they have to be larger than two inches by two inches and must be clean and empty (no organic waste).
Recyclables do not have to be bagged; they can be left loose in the recycling container.
DPW proclaims that it has a citywide goal of getting 80 percent of waste out of landfills. For details, visit zerowaste.dc.gov.