Plastic Bag Recycling



Why are plastic bags not accepted? 

Any soft plastic (plastic that you can tear or stretch with your hands) gets tangled in the recycling equipment at the recycling sorting facility. Soft plastic can easily get stuck in gears and as it stretches can jam equipment resulting in an automatic shut down. 

Plastic bags also act more like paper during the sorting process and can easily get sorted into the paper and cardboard streams. This is called contamination and significantly reduces the value of our paper and cardboard streams. This makes is more difficult to find companies to take our paper and cardboard for recycling and can lead to recyclables going to the landfill if they are too contaminated with soft plastic. 

What type of plastic bags are not accepted?

You cannot put any type of plastic bag in your recycling cart. Do not put grocery sacks, trash bags, newspaper bags, or biodegradable plastic bags in your recycling. Also do not put any type of soft plastic in your recycling cart. This includes ziplocs, saran wrap, bubble wrap and other plastic packing materials. 

How can I recycle plastic bags?  

You can recycle plastic bags by taking them to Kroger, Wal-Mart, and Target. Each of these stores has a large cardboard or plastic bin located inside of the entrances just for plastic bags. 

Plastic bags can be recycled into more plastic bags or into composite lumber. Composite lumber is the plastic feeling wood that you can find in decks, benches, picnic tables, and much more! 

What about shredded paper? 

The only time you should ever put a plastic bag in your recycle cart is if you have shredded paper that needs to be bagged. If you are trying to recycle shredded paper it must be in a CLEAR plastic bag. The first step in the recycling sorting process is a hand sort. The goal of the hand sorters is to pull out plastic trash bags and any other items that should not have been in the recycle cart. If a clear plastic bag with shredded paper is on the conveyor belt they will pull that out and put it into a shredded paper bin. If there is a clear plastic bag with other recyclables in it that will be put into the landfill bin. There is so much recycling at our sorting facility that there is no way our workers could open every clear plastic bag and dump the recyclables out. Shredded paper is special, as there is an entire dumpster dedicated to shredded paper in clear bags. There is not a dumpster for clear bags with other recyclables. So please do not try to bag your other recyclables in a clear bag; they will not be recycled and will instead go to the landfill.  

What if I like to bag my recyclables? 

If you put your recyclables in a plastic bag and then put that in your recycle cart those recyclables will most likely go to the landfill. The employees at the recycling sorting facility are trained to remove any plastic bags from the recycling stream. All plastic bags that are removed from the sorting line, besides clear bags with shredded paper, go to the trash pile and are taken to the landfill at the end of the day. So if you want your recyclable items to be recycled they must be put into the cart loose. 

Instead of collecting your recyclables in a bag inside your house, collect them in a recycling trash can. You can buy all sorts of open top trash cans at Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Lowes, etc. Your recyclables should be clean enough that they would not cause any smell or mess and therefore there is no need to bag the recyclables.