Streets Division’s Plastic Bag Recycling Program Ends
Do not place plastic bags into your recycling carts
Residents should no longer place plastic film and plastic bags into their recycling carts. Residents should not bring plastic film to the Streets Division drop-off sites, either.
Instead, residents who accumulate plastic bag and film should return them to the retailers that offer plastic bag and film recycling programs.
Residents are also encouraged to avoid creating plastic bag and film waste whenever possible by refusing unnecessary bags for purchases, choosing reusable bags, or choosing readily recyclable paper bags.
Why did the program end?
Plastic bag recycling has long been problematic for recyclable sorting systems.
Plastic bags and film are a common source of recycling equipment problems throughout the entire industry. This material gets tangled in sorting equipment, leading to system shutdowns.
Madison program functioned only because the bags were bundled, and because there was a market for Pellitteri Waste Systems to sell these materials that it received from city collections.
Unfortunately, the ability to sell the plastic film collected from our collection carts has hit a dead end.
We will continue to work with our recycler to try to find an alternative way to provide plastic bag recycling. However, bundled bags are not likely ever to return to the collection carts.
Why should bags be returned to retailers?
Plastic bags collected at retailers are preferred by the end users that can recycle plastic film.
Bags and film from retail takeback programs are cleaner and more consistent than that recovered from curbside collection carts.
What can you do about plastic bag and film waste?
Current state law prohibits municipalities from banning plastic bags. Therefore, the best choice would be for you to avoid creating this waste whenever possible.
Choose other options, such as reusable bags, which can be anything from canvas totes to reusable mesh produce bags to other reusable, durable containers. You can also choose paper bags for their ease of recycling.
If you have plastic bags, look for ways to extend their useful life so they are not single-use, such as drying and reusing freezer bags.
More information about what can, and cannot, be placed into your recycling cart can be found at www.cityofmadison.com/recycling.
- Bryan Johnson, 608-267-2626, firstname.lastname@example.org