FAQs: Recycling Containers

What kind of container should I use to establish a recycling program at my office, school, community group or at a special event?
  • recycling symbolMake sure that the purpose of the container is clear -- both for the people using it and the people emptying it.  There should be signage indicating that the container is for recycling and what materials should be placed inside. The chasing arrows symbol is a useful graphic to place on signs.  Also, clear, concise wording posted on the outside of the container such as “ALL PAPER,” “BOTTLES & CANS,” or “CARDBOARD ONLY” works well. If the containers will be used or emptied by people who do not speak English, you might consider using pictures in addition to words and/or adding additional languages to the labels.
  • The most popular colors for recycling containers are bright blue or green, although any color or style that will not be confused with the trash containers can work. Many facilities prefer to choose a recycling container that will complement, rather than stand out from, the décor.
  • Be sure to choose a container that has sufficient capacity so that would-be recyclers are not forced to put their recyclables in a trash can or on the ground.

After you install containers, it is critical to provide adequate communication and education to the people who will fill the containers and the people who will empty the containers.

What containers and service does Fairfax County provide to the public?

The recycling program operates a container lending program and also has two styles of containers available for sale. At this time, collection service is only available to sanitary district customers and county agencies (for example, libraries and fire departments). If you need recycling containers, the Fairfax County Recycling Program recommends the following options:

  • Sanitary district and County Agency customers are supplied with trash and recycling containers as part of their service. Extra containers are available for sale at cost.
  • A wide variety of trash and recycling containers are available at office supply stores, home improvement stores, or through online retailers. There are many different price levels—a recycling container does not have to be expensive to be successful! Options for labeling the containers including stock designs, vinyl stickers, and custom imprinting. Staff from the recycling program are available any time to consult with businesses, schools, nonprofit organizations, and community groups on what style, size, or type of container might work well at any given site or event. Contact us at 703-324-5230, TTY 711 to request assistance. The agency cannot suggest one vendor or service provider over another and it is recommended that you compare prices as they can vary widely.

More Questions?

Please contact the Solid Waste Management Program at 703-324-5230, TTY 711.


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