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

You have questions, Recology has answers!

Hi Recology!

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


Hi Greg!

Unfortunately, plastic bags and film plastic are not accepted in recycling bins, even if the material inside them is recyclable.

While these bags are convenient, they disrupt 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 for contamination of unacceptable materials and ensures that the equipment is processing the materials efficiently for the highest and best use. When it is in a plastic bag, we cannot see if there are contaminates or hazardous materials that could put the safety of our employees at risk.

Items like plastic bags and plastic film (like shrink wrap or saran wrap) get caught up in our equipment, eventually accumulating to the point that our plant must be shut down to clean the material out of the recycling screens that sort the materials. If you would like to tour our facility and see why plastic bags can cause such an issue, visit us at https://www.recology.com/recology-cleanscapes/seattle/tours/ to schedule!

So from now on, throw your recyclables in your cart loose and you’ll be recycling right in no time!

Hope that helps!

Have a suggestion for a topic? Have a recycling question you’re dying to have answered? Suggest a column topic at information2@recology.com.

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