Living Columns & Blogs

Why can’t you recycle straws? That and more FAQs for Centre County recycling

Happy July! Please see some answers below to our most frequently asked questions about plastic recycling.

Q: I keep hearing about how China is not accepting recycling material anymore. Are all my recycling efforts for nothing?

A: Not at all! Please keep recycling your plastics. We sell the material received to local markets/companies and are not affected by this change. When the plastics you recycle are delivered to our facility, they are sorted by hand to filter out contaminated items and ensure we have an end product the recycling markets can use and want to buy. The changes in the recycling markets over the past few years have affected how much our material is worth, but our mission is to recycle and we will continue to provide the best service we can to our residents.

Plastic recycling tips: Recycle only plastic bottles, jugs and jars in curbside bins and in the blue recycling carts found at schools, businesses, multi-family residences, etc. Miscellaneous Plastic Containers should not be placed curbside or in the blue carts, but at one of our six Miscellaneous Plastic Recycling Drop Off Locations. Visit for details.

Q: Why can’t we recycle straws?

A: Straws are not accepted as part of our county recycling program. Straws will be identified as a contaminant if found in our plastic bales. A market for plastic straws is unavailable at this time, so please do not try to recycle them. The best thing to do when using straws is to make sure they are placed securely in a refuse container. When discarded as refuse, straws will not end up in our waterways.

Q: I heard you made some changes to your Miscellaneous Plastics Recycling Program. Can you elaborate?

A: Yes. The recycling markets have tightened up over the years and are accepting fewer and fewer non-bottle plastics. As a result, we have had to move some items that were previously accepted to the “Do Not Recycle” list. Items that we can no longer accept in our Miscellaneous Plastics Recycling Program are: plastic cups, black plastics and plastic packaging from toothbrushes, batteries, toys, etc. In addition, we do not accept the following items in our Miscellaneous Plastics Recycling Program: plastic wrap/film, buckets, flower pots, straws, vinyl siding, plastic hangers, 6-pack rings or Styrofoam.

Please note, if an item does not fit in the opening of our Miscellaneous Plastics Recycling container, we cannot accept that either. Items left outside of recycling drop off containers are considered illegally dumped and violators will be prosecuted. If you are unsure what to bring to one of our six Miscellaneous Plastics Recycling drop off containers, a complete list of acceptable miscellaneous plastics can be found at

Miscellaneous Plastic Recycling tip: Bring clean, dry plastic bags, film and wrap to one of our local grocery stores for recycling. Look for the film recycling bins at the store entrance.

Thank you for recycling!

Amy Schirf is education coordinator for the Centre County Recycling and Refuse Authority. Contact her at