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Sep 04

04/01/18 - Plastic Bags

Posted on September 4, 2020 at 5:08 PM by Jacob Smith

Person walking and carrying items in an orange plastic bagPlastic bags. They truly are everywhere! Useful but they can be an issue for our curbside and community drop-off recycling.

We can reduce our use of plastic bags by bringing reusable bags with us when we shop. However, there are certain occasions when we have forgotten our reusable bags and we've had to use a plastic bag. So what do we do with the plastic bag now that we have one?

Not in Your Recycle Cart

Well first, please don't place your plastic bags in your curbside recycle cart. These bags are challenges in recycling referred to as "tangler." We've mentioned these tanglers before, but it's so important we'll do it again!

Once your recycling leaves your cart, the truck delivers all the recycled items it has picked up on its route to a Material Recovery Facility, also known as a MRF (pronounced "murf"). At the MRF these plastic bags easily moved around; they're lightweight and can float from one place to another.

Also because of how clingy they are, they easily get caught in the machinery at the MRF. Once it gets caught in the machinery, the only way it can be removed is by shutting down the machine and having a person cut it out. Not only is there the issue of worker safety when this happens - but shutting down the process means - no recycling is getting done.

What to Do with Plastic Bags?

What to do with these plastic bags? If you have time you can always get crafty and make bathmats, bags, flowers, etc. However, if you want to spend your free time doing something else, you can bring your plastic bag collection to a local grocery store where they collect the bags in bulk in the front of the store.

If you are unsure where to go to drop off plastic bags, visit the Plastic Film Recycling Find a Drop Off Location page. At these locations, the bags are collected and then baled together. Once the plastic bags are collected like this, the baling process keeps them together and then it can be recycled.