Plastic bags are a nuisance to many recycling facilities.

Did you know that many recycling facilities do not accept plastic bags?  Though it seems counterintuitive, one of the best ways to help your municipality’s recycling efforts is to know what NOT to put into your recycling bin.

Recyclables entering a single stream recycling process are sorted by automated equipment.  When plastic bags become wrapped around sorting disks, the equipment can no longer sort efficiently.  This results in staff having to routinely halt production  to clear the bags away from the sorting disks. 

Lisa Disbrow, Director of Public Affairs for Waste Management's CID Recycling Center in Chicago, cites that the problems arising from plastic bags account for tens of thousands of dollars in added costs to the recycling process.  In addition to the incease in processing costs, clogs in the recycling equipment can cause mixed bales, which cannot be used by manufacturers and must be re-processed.

The moral of the story is to keep those plastic bags out of your recycling bin.  You can rest at ease that your plastic bags will do more harm than good in the recycling bin.  On the other hand, please DO make sure that your paper grocery bags go into the recycling bin as they are widely accepted and easily recycled.