Plastic is recyclable, right?  The answer is no, not all plastics are created equal.  Plastic bags, especially.

“Plastic bags can be destructive, ruin equipment and eat into operation hours because they are so damaging,” said Joe Benedetto, president of Recycling & Disposable Solutions (RDS). “The bags wrap around machinery and we have to clean them by hand, cutting the bags from around the equipment.”

Even with rigorous inspections, some of the plastic bags make it through the process. They are packaged with tons of other recyclables and sent to China to be processed. However, once in China, the loads are examined. The plastic bags are considered contaminates and then the whole load is returned. This amounts in huge costs.

“Plastic bags come in with every load we receive,” Benedetto said. “We have multiple layers of inspections to try and eliminate them from the recycling process but we can’t catch everything.”

There is a lot of time lost in the production line in dealing with this issue. But, there are also huge costs involved taking back shipments and dealing with contaminated loads.

All is not lost – there is something you can do.

Most grocery bags can be recycled, just not along with your other household recyclable items. Collect them all together, keep them clean of stickers or your store receipt, and bring them back to your local retailer. Otherwise, they need to go in the garbage bin.

Most major grocery chains, and large superstores like Walmart and Target have a plastic bag reuse or return program.

“When you go to a store that uses plastic bags, opt for paper. You can recycle those,” Benedetto said. “It’s easier on the environment.”

In addition, when saving other recyclables, don’t bag your items. If you keep things in a bag, dump them out in the blue bin so it is loose. That way the items can be processed easier.

“We can all do our part to be efficient in recycling,” Benedetto said. “It makes a huge difference.”

Please keep all plastic bags out of your curbside recycle bin, including:

  • food packaging (Ziploc-type bags)
  • bread bags
  • plastic liners from cereal boxes (do not include if they tear like paper)
  • produce bags
  • dry cleaning bags (remove staples, receipts, hangars)
  • plastic newspaper wrapping
  • bubble wrap and air pillows (popped)
  • plastic shipping envelopes (remove labeling)
  • frozen food bags
  • cereal box liners that tear like paper
  • biodegradable bags
  • pre-washed salad bags
  • candy bar wrappers
  • chip bags
  • six-pack rings

All these items should go into your trash container.  RDS is always ready to answer your recycling questions – (757)393-4737.