Plastic bags don’t belong in your blue bin – here’s why.
Plastic bags and film are recyclable, but not in your curbside blue bin. When your recycling is picked up, it’s brought to the Material Recovery Facility (MRF). From there, the material passes through the sorting belts and machinery, gets baled, then shipped to be made into something new.
Plastic bags and film are problematic at the MRF for a few reasons. If a bag makes its way into the machinery, everything will need to be shut off so staff can manually remove the bags. This slows everything down and causes huge delays for baling recyclables.
Recyclables should be put in loosely, so they’re able to be sorted easily at the MRF. Bagged recyclables also pose a danger to the sorting staff because they can’t see what’s inside the bag – which could be anything, ranging from garbage, recyclables, or food waste.
*Note: an exception to this rule is for shredded paper. Shredded paper should be put in a large, clear plastic bag before putting it in the bin. This way, the paper is contained during transport and isn’t contaminated by other recyclables.
Plastic bag dos and don’ts
- Brown paper bags – recycle in your blue bin
- Empty bread and produce bags – return them to a retailer
- Grocery bags – return them to a retailer
- Bio-based or compostable bags
- Bubble wrap
- Film that has been painted or has excessive glue
- Plastic air bags (i.e. Amazon air packages)
- Plastic overwrap (i.e. Plastic used to bundle paper towels)
- Prepackaged food bags (i.e. Pre-made salad bags, chip bags)
- Resealable plastic pouches (i.e. Frozen vegetable and fruit bags)
- Used saran/cling wrap used to cover food
Here are some tips:
- Say “no” when a retailer offers you a bag (plastic or paper). For a few items, we usually don’t need a bag.
- Bring a reusable bag when you go shopping.
- Reuse your “single-use” plastic bags around your home.
- Return plastic bags to a retailer that accepts them for recycling.
- Paper isn’t always the better choice. Paper bags take more natural resources to make than plastic bags do.
Remember, reduce your use of plastic bags, and reuse and recycle the ones already in your home.