Recology ask: Why can’t I put my recycling in a plastic bag?


Welcome to Ask Recology, a monthly feature from sponsor Recology King County.

You have questions, Recology has answers!

Hello Recology!

Every week I put my recyclables in a large plastic garbage bag in my shopping cart. But this week I got a message that I shouldn’t do that. Why can’t I put my recycling in a plastic bag? Isn’t that plastic?

Many Thanks,

Hello Greg!

Unfortunately, plastic bags and foils made of plastic are not accepted in the recycling bins, even if the material they contain is recyclable.

While these bags are practical, they interfere with the single-stream recycling process.

We accept all different types of recyclables in the same bin – plastic, glass, cardboard, paper and metal – and these materials must be separated by Recology when they arrive at our material recovery facility. Loose material reduces the risk of contamination with unacceptable materials and ensures that the equipment efficiently processes the materials to get the highest and best use. If it’s in a plastic bag, we can’t see if there is any contamination or hazardous materials that could endanger the safety of our employees.

Objects like plastic bags and plastic wrap (like shrink wrap or saran wrap) get caught in our devices and eventually accumulate in such a way that our factory has to be closed to remove the material from the recycling sieves that sort the materials. If you’d like to tour our facility and see why plastic bags can cause such a problem, please visit us at to plan!

So from now on throw your recyclable materials in your shopping cart and they will be recycled in no time at all!

I hope it helps!

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