Ozarks Headwaters Recycling and Materials Management District

  • Recycle 417 Team

Plastic Bags: Nothing But Trouble

Updated: Feb 22, 2019


What’s the best way to deal with plastic bags? Don’t use them!

If there is one thing recycling facilities really want you to know, it’s this: Don’t put plastic bags in your recycling bin.


Why not?

When recyclables arrive at sorting facilities in plastic bags, it slows down the process because workers have to tear open the bag and dump out the materials. The bag then ends up in the trash can.

If plastic bags get past the sorters, they go through the sorting equipment causing mechanical issues. This includes getting stuck in the conveyor belt, clogging screens, or getting wrapped around equipment. When this happens, the facility can be forced to stop processing while the bags are cut free. Sometimes this is even dangerous for the employees who must perform the task. Once the bags are cut free, they end up in the trash can.

Pieces of plastic film in baled materials, such as paper, can hinder the ability for it to be processed into a new product.


How should recyclables be collected?

Collect your recycling in unlined containers before transferring it to the recycling bin. If you must use a bag to transport materials to the recycling bin, empty the bag into the bin and throw it away.


Aren’t plastic bags recyclable?

Plastic bags can be collected and recycled in proper locations and many retailers offer this service. Please make sure the bags are clean and dry. If they are not, they will need to be disposed of in the trash.


What’s the best way to deal with plastic bags?

Don’t use them! When possible, refuse the bag. Bring your own reusable bag when shopping. If you’re only purchasing a couple of items, you might even be able to carry them without a bag. Reducing the consumption of plastic bags is the best way to deal with them.