Last year, when CVSWMD staff and I visited Chittenden Solid Waste District’s Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) in Williston, staff described going through the process of regularly shutting down the facility to cut “tanglers” out of the machines. Across the country, recycling workers are facing this dangerous and time-consuming process, as people continue to wish-cycle plastic bags in places that cannot take them.
Here’s how South Carolina-based recycling manager Brian Shea described it in an interview last July: “It's draining. It's effort to climb in and out of these screens on a daily basis, and it can really do some damage to the equipment and morale to the team."
So, how do you recycle plastic bags? On one hand, you can repurpose plastic bags as trash bags, dog poop bags and even creative DIY projects. You might even give them away via Front Porch Forum to someone who can repurpose them. If you’re ready to recycle the bags, especially as you switch to reusable bags in time for the July 1st plastic bag ban, just remember there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it.
The right way to recycle plastic bags in Vermont
Bring the following types of bags to a drop-off location near you. Make sure your bags are clean and dry. Your bags will most likely be recycled into decking and railing.
- LDPE & HDPE films e.g. Grocery bags
- Produce bags
- Newspaper sleeves
- Food storage bags e.g. Bread bags, cereal liners
- Product and case overwraps e.g. Toilet paper and paper towel wrap
- Dry cleaning bags
- Ice bags
- Salt bags
- Pellet bags
- Packaging air pillows
Do NOT put these bags in the plastic bag drop-off site
- Pet food and bird seed bags (unless labeled with Store Drop-off, #2 or #4)
- Crinkly bags e.g. Grape or cherry bags, some bakery bread bags
- Food storage bags not listed above e.g. Chip bags
- Dirty food bags e.g. Cheese or meat bags, bags with food residue
- Compostable bags e.g. BioBags
In-district plastic bag drop-off sites (updated 3/31/20)
- Shaw’s, Paine Turnpike, North Berlin
- Shaw’s, 2 Main St, Montpelier
- Shaw’s, 820 Waterbury Stowe Rd, Waterbury
- Kohl’s, 123 Berlin Mall Rd, Berlin
- Wal-Mart, 282 Berlin Mall Rd Ste 1, Berlin
- Price Chopper, 168 Ames Drive, Barre
- Tops Markets, 82 VT Route 15W, Hardwick
- Hannaford, 456 S. Barre Rd, Barre
To learn more about recycling plastic bags, visit: https://dec.vermont.gov/content/plastic-bags