RecyclingWorks in Lynn

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

No Plastic Bags in the Recycling Cart. Never. Ever. Don't Do It.

In Lynn this summer we'll be rolling out a new program called the Recycling IQ Kit, thanks in part to a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP).  The Recycling IQ Kit aims to clean out the contaminants in the recycling.  Anything that doesn't belong in the recycling cart is a CONTAMINANT.  Contaminants can spoil a whole load of good recyclables, or gum up the machinery at the recycling processing plants.

No Plastic Bags in this Recycling Cart


#1 Contaminant in Lynn's Recycling = PLASTIC BAGS

I see it all over Lynn, small super market plastic bags, flat and loose and mixed in with the rest of the recycling.  Then there are the big kitchen bags that look like they are filled with trash--but if you open them up, they are filled with perfect clean and dry recyclables.   All those bags go to the processing plant where they are picked off the conveyor belts by workers, or simply taken off the line, along with the recyclables inside and treated as trash.

Here are examples:

Nice recyclables inside that bag wishing to be let loose in the cart

What about this bag, since it is made of thick plastic?

It's still a plastic bag and still gets caught in the machinery.   Keep it out of the recycling cart.

Check out this video that shows just the kind of havoc that plastic bags can cause in a recycling processing plant.

But . . . Plastic bags are recyclable, right?

Yes, they are recyclable but because they get caught in the machinery at the recycling processing plant, you can't put them in the recycling cart.   You have at least two options, and maybe three, if you have a dog.

1)   Save all the plastic bags that come into your life and take them to the supermarket.  I always use reusable bags and try not to accept plastic bags when I buy something.  If I forget my bag I'll just go without the bag if it's something small or I'll ask for paper.  Even still, all these plastic film and plastic bags come into my life.  I save all plastic bags that don't have food on them.  For instance, I shake out my bread bags and save those, and the bag the newspaper comes in, and the plastic wrap that comes wrapped around so many products, and the bubble wrap in an Amazon shipment.  About every three weeks I take it to the supermarket where I put it in a plastic corrugated box that many supermarkets keep at the front of the store. 
I stuff all my plastic bags and film in this bag
This is the box where I deposit my plastic bags at the Market Basket in Salem.  Most supermarkets have this same box.

2.  You can throw plastic bags and all plastic wrap in the trash.  Pretty simple.

3.  If you have a dog, use them as doggy poop bags.