Author: T. Hungate, Volunteer Author
You may have heard that plastic bags are not supposed to go in your curbside recycling bin, but do you know why? There are a few reasons actually,
and they may surprise you.
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 of 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 also makes it unsafe for recycling center workers to open the bags, and in most cases they end up being thrown in 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.
What should you do with your plastic bags if you can’t put them in the bin?
There is good news for plastic bags when it comes to recycling. Over 18,000 retail store locations have added plastic bag recycling to their list of services offered. You may have even noticed these bins at the entrance to some of your favorite grocery stores or home improvement stores. The bins are typically labeled, easy to see and easy to use. Use this tool to find exact locations to dispose of your plastic bags, by zip code: http://www.plasticfilmrecycling.org.