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Recycling Plastic Bags

The other day, I was privileged to meet with a group of young students investigating the recycling process. Like any good investigators, they came prepared with a list of questions. We talked about what goes in the recycle bin, and how the material is separated when it gets to a recycling facility. But, like our bodies battle bad bacteria to stay healthy, the recycling process faces contamination on a daily basis. This led the kids to an interesting question.


“What’s the most common contaminant that we see at our facility?”


Not only was this a great question, I think it’s a good one to share. The answer might surprise you…plastic bags take the prize for the most common contaminant!


But why? Can’t you take them to the store to be recycled? What’s the difference if they end up at the store or in the bin?


The answer is, machinery that’s designed to process paper, cardboard, cans, bottles, and jars, isn’t equipped for plastic stretch wrap and baggies. If you put a pen in a pencil sharpener, you’re probably not going to get a good result.


Similarly, bags put in curbside recycle bins become a contaminant, and eventually waste at a recycling facility. The picture below shows what happens to plastic bags when they go through the spinning discs that separate material. Not a pretty sight!


Bags that are taken to grocery stores for recycling end up in the right place to effectively be recycled.


Like this group of students, if you have any questions about how curbside recycling works, don’t hesitate to give us a call at (309) 452-0064, visit our website, respond to this blog, or contact us on social media. We’d love to hear from you!


Thanks for reading!



Plastic bags caughts in discs

What Happens at a Recycling Facility?
Labor Day is Coming!


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Sunday, 09 August 2020

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Recycling conserves natural resources, such as timber, water, and minerals.