Madison will no longer accept plastic bags in bundles in recycle bins · The Badger Herald
Madison is no longer accepting bundles of plastic bags in recycling bins because they hurt the recycling sorters and stop putting large amounts of thin film plastic on the market from recycling centers.
Prior to the move, Madison Recycling Coordinator Bryan Johnson said Madison residents could group plastic bags like those from grocery stores and use them with the rest of their recycling. Since this type of plastic is common in most households, Johnson Madison and recycling partner Pellitteri Waste Systems have tried to come up with a system to recycle them. However, the plastic created too many problems for machines and proved difficult to sell.
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“We were the only ones in the state who tried this long because they messed up the equipment,” said Johnson. “[Plastic bags] are system-wide like containment number one, because it only covers the machines. ”
The thin plastic is also difficult to sell from recycling plants like Pellitteri, said Johnson. Companies that accept this type of plastic prefer to source it direct from grocery stores and other retailers as the plastic is often cleaner and drier than what’s taken from residents’ bins, Johnson said.
Although Madison doesn’t accept bundles of plastic bags for recycling, there are still ways to recycle these types of plastic, including finding retailers who will accept them, according to Johnson.
“Really, the biggest bang for your buck that you can do is avoid creating the waste wherever you can,” said Johnson. “Like bringing reusable bags to the store … or choosing paper bags, at least if you forget.”
Currently, Johnson said banning or taxing the use of plastic bags in Madison is not an option as state law prevents it.
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Madison residents can still use plastic bags to hold other recyclables if they are disposed of in their dumpster or on the curb. Johnson said, however, that if they leave the items loose or use a clear bag, it would be easier for recycling workers to sort the materials.
According to Johnson, around 18.9% of Madison’s waste is non-recyclable and contaminates machinery.
“A lot of this will come from people who do ‘dream cycling’, as we call it in the industry, where they just really wish it could be recycled or feel kind of like a plastic thing … so you just toss it in Dare and hope, ”said Johnson. “We don’t want that, it could hurt the machinery or be unfortunate for the workers at the back who sort the recyclables by hand.”
Johnson said if residents are ever unsure whether or not an item can be recycled, they can check Madison Recycling website or call.