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King County, Seattle recycling experts ask customers to recycle plastic bags, wrap separately from curbside recycling materials

Summary

To improve the quality of recycling in Seattle and King County, plastic bags and wrap will no longer be accepted in curbside recycling beginning Jan. 1, 2020, and customers will be asked to take these materials to recycling locations or place them in the garbage.

Story

Changes are coming next year to how materials are collected for recycling in Seattle and King County.

Beginning Jan. 1, garbage and recycling collection programs will no longer accept plastic bags and plastic wrap in curbside recycling carts and bins. Instead, customers will be asked to take those separated materials to a drop-off location for remanufacturing or place them in the garbage for disposal.

Plastic bags and wrap are often wet or have food waste on them when placed in the curbside recycling and contaminate other materials. Additionally, at recycling facilities, these plastics can jam sorting and processing equipment, leading to frequent shutdowns so workers can remove the tangled materials.

Bringing plastic bags and wrap to a drop-off location keeps the bundled recyclables cleaner and easier to manufacture into new products.

“Recycling is one of the best ways to protect the environment and fight climate change, but to make it work we have to do it right,” said King County Solid Waste Division Director Pat McLaughlin. “Keeping problem items out of our bins at home will save money because we won’t have to throw out good recyclable materials that get contaminated from dirty plastic bags.”

“Our goal is to ensure what goes into the recycling cart gets recycled at its highest value. We want everyone to Recycle Right,” noted Jeff Fowler, Seattle Public Utilities Solid Waste Deputy Director. “Removing plastic bags and wrap from our curbside recycling mix will have a positive impact on the quality of our other recyclable materials and the efficiency of the facilities that process those materials.”

The changes were recommended by a task force of city, county and solid waste industry representatives that was established to research improvements that could be made to the recycling system following China’s change in allowable levels of contamination in bundled recyclables.

Find plastic bag and wrap drop-off locations at plasticfilmrecycling.org. King County and Seattle Public Utilities are working to expand drop-off locations that accept plastic bags and plastic wrap for recycling.

While throwing plastic bags and wrap in the garbage is the least desirable action, it’s better to toss them out rather than contaminate other recyclables.

Quote from King County

“Recycling is one of the best ways to protect the environment and fight climate change, but to make it work we have to do it right,” said King County Solid Waste Division Director Pat McLaughlin. “Keeping problem items out of our bins at home will save money because we won’t have to throw out good recyclable materials that get contaminated from dirty plastic bags.”

Quote from Seattle Public Utilities

“Our goal is to ensure what goes into the recycling cart gets recycled at its highest value. We want everyone to Recycle Right,” noted Jeff Fowler, Seattle Public Utilities Solid Waste Deputy Director. “Removing plastic bags and wrap from our curbside recycling mix will have a positive impact on the quality of our other recyclable materials and the efficiency of the facilities that process those materials.”

Links

To learn more about the proposed changes, read the Responsible Recycling Task Force recommendations, or how to “Recycle Right,” visit:

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Doug Williams, Department of Natural Resources and Parks, 206-477-4543

Sabrina Register, Seattle Public Utilities, 206-446-8267