Montgomery “Oops Tag” Program Reduces Non-Recyclable Materials Sent to Recycling Center

The Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is promoting its Recycle Right “Oops Tag” Program to inform residents about materials that should not be placed in recycling bins.

Teams are inspecting individual residential recycling bins looking for items that are not recyclable. If any non-recyclable materials are found, inspectors will tag the bin, identifying the items that are not recyclable.

Crews have found the recycling bin rejection rate is about 22 percent for the first week of inspections. However, by week three, the rejection rate typically drops to about 15 percent.

“We know most people have good intentions when tossing items they believe are recyclable into their recycling bins,” said DEP Director Adam Ortiz. “We call this ‘wish-cycling,’ but not everything that is plastic or glass is recyclable. The ‘oops tags’ let people know the specific items in their bins that cannot be recycled. It is our hope that this targeted education will provide an ‘ah-ha’ moment for residents who want to recycle right.”

Montgomery County DEP created a YouTube series to questions about how to recycle Plastic Containers, Plastic Bags, Glass Bottles, Foam Packaging, Batteries, and Aluminum.

According to a County press release:

DEP aims to reduce the amount of non-recyclable material going to the recycling center. In 2020, the Montgomery County Recycling Center received about 7,500 tons (about 15 million pounds) of non-recyclable material. This represents about 22 percent of all non-paper recycling received at the recycling center.

The most common non-recyclable items found in recycling bins are plastic bags, plastic wrap, hazardous or toxic product containers, electronics, packing peanuts, or foam blocks used to protect items in shipments and home health care medical supplies.

Visit the Montgomery County website for more information.