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If You’re Putting Garbage Bags in Your Recycling Bin, You’re Doing It Wrong

by ARLnow.com — April 13, 2016 at 10:30 am 0

Recycling bins in Arlington (Flickr pool photo by Aaron Webb)So you heard last fall that Arlington’s recycling contractor was no longer recycling plastic bags. No big deal, you can just take all of those grocery and shopping bags to your nearest supermarket for recycling.

But it’s still okay to put a garbage bag full of recyclables into the blue bin, right?

Wrong.

Even garbage bags are verboten under the new policy.

“In the past, our recycling processor allowed County recycling customers to put plastic bags in their recycling carts,” Erik Grabowsky, Arlington’s Solid Waste Bureau Chief, tells ARLnow.com. “However, the processor cannot accept these plastic bags anymore because they wrap around processing equipment and disrupt operations. We ask that residents stop putting plastic bags in their recycling carts.”

Also, make sure that plastic films — including bubble wrap, saran wrap and those little air pockets that come in Amazon.com boxes — stay out of the recycling.

There’s a rumor going around that the presence of any plastic bag in a recycling bin automatically forces the recycling crew to dump it as trash. A “stinky policy,” is how one tipster described it. But that’s not exactly true, Grabowsky says.

“The presence of a few plastic bags in a recycling bin does not make the entire bin trash,” he said. “The processor would not discard the entire contents of the bin or a truckload as trash. However, we ask that residents be proactive and refrain from putting plastic bags in recycling bins.”

The policy applies to residents who are served by the county’s trash and recycling service. Those living in apartment buildings or condos have their recycling picked up by a private contractor, which may have different rules.

Flickr pool photo by Aaron Webb

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