Plastic shopping bags. Plastic packaging. It’s ubiquitous in the grocery store: from bread bags to toilet paper packages to cereal bags. Many of these can be recycled, but only at the store. If you drop them in your curbside pick-up, these bags and wraps will get wrapped around the equipment, causing the machines to jam up and the lines to be stopped so they can be cut off. In the end, they will end up in the landfill – no different than if you had thrown them into the trash.
Before taking to the store, there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure that it doesn’t contaminate the whole batch:
- Each item should be clean and dry. Be sure to remove any non-plastic materials, such as paper labels or materials.
- Remove any food residue. Empty out any remaining pieces of food and brush away the crumbs. If there’s extensive residue (e.g. peanut butter), then it should not be recycled.
- When in doubt, throw it out (into the trash). We all want to do what’s best for the environment, but recycling contamination can create even more waste because it can ruin an entire batch and send everything to the landfill, not just the contaminated item. So if you’re not sure, then don’t feel bad about throwing it away.
- Some other items to avoid recycling include biodegradable or compostable bags, candy wrappers, pre-washed salad mix bags.
What Should Go to the Store?
How2Recycle labels make it easy to know that items should be dropped at the store. What if there’s just a recycling number? #2 (HDPE – high-density polyethylene) and #4 (LDPE – low-density polyethylene) plastics should go to store drop-off. But did you know that you can also drop-off other common plastic items that may not have a label or number: grocery bags, sandwich bags, produce bags, newspaper bags, and wraps around drink packaging.
Ready to recycle your plastic at the store? Click here to find a location near you.