Many of our customers are very diligent about collecting their plastic grocery bags in order to recycle them in their recycling bins each week. We greatly appreciate the effort you make to recycle these bags. But, the truth of the matter is that although plastic bags are made of a highly valuable and recyclable material, they can not be processed and separated from the rest of your recycled materials at many Materials Recovery Facilities (aka. a recycling plant). These facilities use a variety of mechanical means to sift through the tons of materials that enter the sorting line. Because plastic bags are extremely pliable, they frequently wrap themselves around the gears and rotors in the plant and constantly slow down or even completely stop the processing of recycled materials. Therefore, it is recommended that you do not put your plastic bags into your recycling bin.
How to Recycle Bags
Unfortunately, the best way to recycle plastic bags, is not as convenient as throwing them into your Single Stream recycling bin. However, if you are already collecting your bags separately from your glass, paper, metals, and other plastic containers, you’re half way there! These collected bags must then be brought to your local grocery store in order to be processed properly. At our office we have set up plastic bag recycling stations about the building in order to collect these materials. Then, once a month, we designate a person to drop-off the collected material at their convenience. Plastic film (as it is categorized in the industry) is highly valuable when collected separately, and is recycled to make things like park benches, porch decks, or fences to name a few.
The good news is that many people are unaware that there are several more types of plastic bags, or plastic films that can be bundled with your bags to be collected at the grocery collection point. These include, plastic bread bags, small plastic “baggies”, plastic cling wrap, or the plastics your newspapers arrive in, as long as they do not have any food on them.
Collection of Recyclables Using Plastic Bags
Another question we are often asked is, “Can I use plastic bags to collect my recyclables?” Although we advise that all customer simply place items into their collection bins without a plastic bag liner, we also understand that plastic bags may be the only means to getting your recycled goods out of your household. If the choice is between using a plastic bag or not recycling at all, we ALWAYS want our customers to recycle even if that means collecting using a bag. If you must use a plastic bag for recycling collection, please try to use clear bags, so that our collection crews can differentiate your trash from your recycling on pick up days.
As always, thanks for reading!