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You can recycle that yogurt cup after all.

The city of San Diego announced Monday that it will accept many new types of plastic in blue recycling bins, stuff like yogurt cups, lawn chairs, plastic crates and berry containers.

San Diego announced the change on the same day it reported a slight uptick in its recycling rate, which moved to 66 percent, the city’s highest-ever reported rate. That figure represents how much waste was diverted from the landfill, but it is a complicated estimate. (The Union-Tribune examined how the rate is calculated in this story.)

The plastics now being accepted in blue bins had long been recycled elsewhere in the state, as we noted in this 2008 story with a favorite headline: Want to Recycle That Yogurt Cup? Not So Fast, Pal. But the plastics weren’t collected, as they don’t have a refund value like drink bottles and weren’t sought by local manufacturers.

Ken Prue, San Diego’s recycling program manager, said markets for the materials finally matured. They’ll likely be exported to China.

The city could easily collect 750 to 2,000 tons of the newly collectable plastics, he said, on top of the 72,000 tons it already collects curbside.

Here’s the full list of what the city will now accept curbside (and which it has accepted at the Miramar Landfill since June 1):

New acceptable plastic food packaging containers include round yogurt and dairy tubs, clear PET No. 1 clamshell plastic, drink cups, deli trays and berry baskets. All containers must be clean and contain no food waste or trash.

New acceptable non-food plastics include plant pots and garden trays, along with rigid plastics such as buckets, toys, and containers that held non-hazardous household products such as detergent or pet litter.

Other non-food plastics include large items such as plastic crates, totes, laundry baskets, pallets, and lawn furniture. These types of items must usually be broken down to fit into the blue recycling carts. If they are jammed into the carts or protruding out of the carts, the recycling truck may not be able to empty residences’ recycling cart.

Plastic containers that held toxic materials such as motor oil, antifreeze, pesticides, solvents, chemicals, etc. are not recyclable.

Nor are plastic bags or utensils, compostable plastic (marked PLA) or Styrofoam.

Please contact Rob Davis directly at rob.davis@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0529 and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/robwdavis.

Rob Davis

Rob Davis was formerly a senior reporter for Voice of San Diego.

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