recycling tips

June 15, 2020

plastic bag recycling

It’s important to make sure we recycle right, not just recycle often! It’s exciting to see all the new products made from the bags and the technology used to sort them – but how individuals’ recycle does matter.

It doesn’t take many plastic bags to get wrapped up in the recycling equipment, causing the equipment to work inefficiently and forcing it to shut down multiple times every day. The facility staff must enter or climb on the screening equipment to cut away bags as in this video.

If you use a plastic bag to collect your recyclables, empty the recyclables into your recycle bin and reuse the bag or recycle it at your grocery or retail store. Don’t mix plastic bottles with plastic bags – that’s what causes safety and efficiency problems in the first place.

Most grocery stores and retail stores such as Walmart, Target, and Lowes have recycling bins for this type of plastic. If you are not reusing the bags, take them to a drop off location, which is probably the same store where you got them.

Find the stores nearest you by visiting this site – a list of all the store drop-off locations in your zip code.

More than just your plastic retail bags can often be recycled, but it’s good to check with your drop-off to see what’s accepted. Examples of what often can be recycled include:

  • Produce, newspaper sleeves, bread, and dry cleaning bags (free of receipts and clothes hangers)
  • Zip-top food storage bags (clean and dry)
  • Plastic shipping envelopes (remove labels), bubble wrap and air pillows (deflate)
  • Product wrap on cases of water/soda bottles, paper towels, napkins, disposable cups, bathroom tissue, diapers
  • Furniture and electronic wrap
  • Plastic cereal box liners (but if it tears like paper, do not include)

Now, if you are on the other end of the consumer chain and looking to provide a program for your school, community, or solid waste planning area, there is no need to start from scratch! Many other such entities have already developed successful recycling programs and are more than happy to share what they have done. Additionally, end-users in need of this material are also ready and willing to assist with setting up programs, such as the one found here. Plastics wraps, bags, and film may not be going away any time soon, but as long as they are here, there is great reuse for them!


About the Author:  Christine Collier is an SCS Senior Project Professional in Des Moines, Iowa. She has over 18 years of experience in the Iowa solid waste industry. She has spent most of her career as both a client and project manager working directly with clients to ensure their projects were being completed on schedule and within budget. Her focus has been on working as a member of the client’s team as an advocate for their best interest. Through her career, she has become an expert in Iowa’s solid waste regulations and compliance requirements. She has BS and MS degrees from Iowa State University in Civil Engineering with an environmental emphasis and is a licensed Iowa Professional Engineer.










Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am