Plastic bags: In or out of the recycling bin?

If you remember, Poly taught us to take our plastic bags back to the grocery store. But do you know why? There are a few reasons actually, and they may surprise you.

Plastic bags: In or out of the recycling bin?

Reason 1

 – Most recycling centers’ first stage of sorting is done by hand by hard-working individuals at your local recycling station. They sort through tons of material an hour and lose precious time if they have to untie or open a plastic bag. The workers cannot tell what is inside a closed bag. It could be full of 100% recyclable material or it could be full of things like dirty diapers or food scraps and other contaminants. This makes it unsafe for recycling center workers to open the bags, and in most cases, they end up being thrown into the trash!

Reason 2

 – Plastic bags that do make it past the first sorting stage can interfere with the automatic sorting machines which use conveyor belts, rotating tunnels, spinning wheels, and magnets to sort items. Plastic bags can easily get caught in the belts and wheels causing them to jam. Your little plastic bag could bring an entire recycling sorting station to a dead stop. It could take workers hours to find the plastic culprit and remove it, thereby greatly reducing the efficiency of the recycling station.

So always remember Poly’s lesson about plastic bags: Take them back to the store or replace them with reusable bags! Over 18,000 retail store locations have added plastic bag recycling to their list of services offered, and they sell reusable ones. You may have even noticed the plastic bag collection bins at the entrances to some of your favorite grocery or home improvement stores. The bins are typically labeled, easy to see, and easy to use. Use this tool to find exact locations for your ZIP code where you can dispose of your plastic bags: http://www.plasticfilmrecycling.org.