Bristol, VA, announced Monday that paper and plastic products will no longer be accepted through the city’s recycling program. 

The statement follows a similar announcement from Washington County, VA, last week that also disclosed the suspension of recycling services. 

“There are no vendors in the area willing to accept plastic and paper recyclables, as there is currently no market for these materials in our region,” the press release from Bristol reads. “The City has contacted the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality who is aware of the problem and is also working to identify a solution.”  

Washington County’s press release says that Tri-Cities Waste Paper, the county’s recycling vendor, informed the county last week that the facility would be closing. 

Jennifer Vasdez, an office manager at Tri-Cities Waste Paper, said the facility would be closing March 15. She said she was told that Asheville Waste Paper, the parent company of Tri-Cities Waste Paper, informed staff that the company wanted to focus on the Asheville location. 

Wallace McCulloch, the director of Solid Waste Services in Bristol, said the city was using Reclaimed Resources, a locally-based recycling company, before the facility ceased services. 

McCulloch said the city then tried to turn to Tri-Cities Waste Paper, and were met with the same problem. 

 “They’ve got a stockpile of plastic on their site that nobody will take,” McCulloch said. “It’s a local problem, I’ve been trying to talk to some of the other public works agencies in other cities.

“It’s all coming to a head now. Basically, nobody wants the plastic.” 

Bristol will still take cardboard and aluminum at convenience sites, he added, but if people continue to fill containers with items other than aluminum, he said the city may discontinue that service too. 

The city has the option of taking recycling materials to another location, but McCulloch said that basically means the city will be paying to recycle the items. 

He said the city is continuing to search for other alternatives for recycling programs. 

Washington County’s director of solid waste Allen Morris also said in a press release that the county is seeking a vendor to take the county’s recyclables. 

“We have no choice but to stop this recycling program,” he said in the release.