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Those To-Go Coffee Cups Are Not Recyclable in Arlington

(Updated at 9:50 a.m.) The following may ruin an important part of your holiday experience by revealing that a long-held belief held by many is, in fact, fiction.

But here’s the truth: the festive red paper cup containing your peppermint mocha is not recyclable, at least not in Arlington.

That’s the message from the county’s Dept. of Environmental Services, which posted the reminder on social media Monday morning.

“Festive? Definitely. Recyclable? Nope,” DES wrote. “The slick lining in single-use take-out coffee cups means they need to go in the trash. Alas, the tops too because of their mixed plastic.”

To be clear, this is not just an Arlington issue. Most recycling systems reject paper Starbucks cups due to the difficulty in separating the paper from the lining.

Disposable coffee cups, meanwhile, are not the only seemingly recyclable thing — complete with recycling logos — that is actually not recyclable in Arlington’s single-stream residential recycling collection.

Other things you can’t recycle in the blue bins include plastic bags — garbage bags, grocery bags, etc. — plus disposable Solo cups, shredded paper, paper plates and boxes soiled by food or grease, and styrofoam containers. Oh, and also glass, though that can be dropped off at purple bins around the county.

Arlington lists items that can be recycled on its website. The recycling “MVP” that is in high demand, according to the county, is aluminum products like cans, foil and trays.

Arlington’s residential recycling collection mostly serves single-family homes in the county. Those in condos and apartments are served by private haulers who may have different rules about what can and cannot be recycled.

Photo by Jasmin Schuler on Unsplash

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