Public Works and Environmental Services

Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION: Our administrative office is open 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Mon. - Fri.

TTY 711

12000 Government Center Parkway
Suite 458, Fairfax, Va 22035

Eric Forbes,
Director, Solid Waste Management


Choose to Refuse. By refusing, you can say NO to purchasing many items that are not ultimately recyclable. Always choose to refuse single-use plastic items, which have an average life span of 15 minutes before they are thrown away.

Always and Never Recycle graphic
Visit Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and download the Always/Never flyer in multiple languages

Many single-use items may be improperly disposed of and end up as litter. Much of the plastic found floating in our oceans and rivers are single-use plastics, such as plastic bags, water bottles, takeout containers, cups, and straws.

Pro-actively say NO to single-use items by bringing your own reusable bags and refillable beverage containers, straws, or takeout containers. Challenge yourself to find waste-free alternatives for other items provided to you with takeout food, such as napkins, beverage containers, and cutlery.

Skip the plastic bag and place recyclables in your recycling cart or container loose, clean, and dry, or take them to one of the County’s drop-off centers at I-66 Transfer Station and I-95 Landfill Complex.

How Do I Determine What Can Be Recycled?

What gets recycled depends on your recyclables collector and what their chosen processing facility is currently recovering and selling. Ninety percent of the homes putting out recyclables in Fairfax County are collected by private companies, who take your recyclables to a privately-owned Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) in the region.

Use the Always and Never Recycle flyer for general guidance. Visit Reduce, Reuse, Recycle to download the Always/Never flyer in multiple languages.

If Fairfax County Government collects your waste, visit Curbside Recycling for answers on what is and isn't recyclable. Does Fairfax County Pick Up My Trash? Use this map to find out.

If a private company collects your waste, please contact them directly for specific instructions.

Which Numbers Can Be Recycled?

The RIC Number located on your plastic does NOT indicate whether something is recyclable or not; it simply indicates the type of resin that the product is made from. Learn more about what the RIC Number does and doesn't mean. Please recycle your plastic bottles, jugs, and jars rather than relying on the RIC Number.

What happens to unrecycled plastic? Is it just buried in the ground?

The overwhelming majority of municipal solid waste collected in Fairfax County is delivered to Covanta’s waste-to-energy facility in Lorton where it is processed to produce renewable energy and a stabilized ash by-product that only takes up about 10% of the original volume which can then be buried in the Fairfax County’s solid waste landfill.

Can I put grocery bags in my recycling bin?

Please take plastic grocery bags to any of the larger grocery stores to be recycled (there are usually drop-off bins at or near the door) or place them in the trash. Plastic bags put in a curbside recycling bin can tangle and damage sorting equipment at the facility where collected recyclables are sorted and processed for sale (e.g., the bags get tangled in sorting equipment and conveyor belts and the facility has to shut down to have them removed). Plastic bags that make it past the sorting equipment also contaminate the other grades of plastic being recovered.

What Can I Do with Gardening Plastics?

View ideas to reduce, reuse, recycle Gardening Plastic Pots, Trays and Bags.

What about kitchen plastic wraps and baggies?

Used plastic wrap, or cling wrap, disposable plastic baggies and wrappers should be thrown in the trash.

Fairfax Virtual Assistant