It’s nice to be able to commingle aluminum, glass and plastic when we recycle, but please don’t put your plastic grocery bags into your recycling bin. The facility where we ship our recyclables is designed to separate solid items, such as cans, bottles, cardboard and other paper products. Thin plastic bags can wrap themselves around machine parts at the materials recovery facility and cause damage to the equipment that can shut down a line for a day or more. One of the first things workers at the facility do with a fresh load of recyclables is separate out the plastic bags. Also in the category with grocery bags are newspaper delivery bags, dry cleaning wraps and food storage bags. A rule of thumb for plastic: If you can wrap it around your finger, you shouldn’t put it in your recycle bin.
A better next life f or your plastic bags is to take them to a collection bin, usually found at grocery stores and big-box retailers. Once these plastic bags and wraps are collected and shipped to the proper recycling facilities, they are turned into backyard decking, fences, playground equipment, pipes, pallets, crates and even new plastic bags.
Find a bin close to you here.