Madison residents must find new outlets if they want to recycle plastic bags.
The city announced Tuesday that due to market restrictions, it will no longer accept plastic films and bags in roadside recycling bins or drop-off points.
Starting next month, residents will be able to sign up for courses to learn the intricacies of the local recycling system, what can and cannot be recycled, and how to reduce their overall waste.
Plastic film can get caught in automated sorting machines, causing downtime in processing centers, but Madison has accepted bundled bags. But the city said their processor, Pellitteri Waste Systems, could no longer sell these bags.
Danielle Pellitteri, vice president of the company, said the main problem was contamination.
“When China stopped importing lower quality film, the markets began to dry up and as a result, only clean, aggregated plastic film is now marketable,” Pellitteri said.
However, it is difficult to keep the bags clean in a truck with used cans, bottles, and other recyclable materials.
“We did our best … but we cannot continue the program,” said Pellitteri.
Pellitteri said the change would affect other municipalities as recycling contracts come due.
Bryan Johnson, Madison’s recycling coordinator, said the city is working to find an alternative way to offer recycling of plastic bags, although bags are unlikely to ever be left in roadside carts again.