Plastic Bag Dilemma-Mr. Green Sets it Right

Cannot Recycle StickQ: An article I read mentioned that plastic shopping bags and bulk-bin bags can’t be recycled even if they have the recycle symbol on them. Is this true?

—Patty in Los Angeles, California

A: Nope. They can be recycled, just not as easily as other plastics. Most bags, thin plastics, and films have the same composition as major hard plastics. However, recycling them requires a change in equipment, and some processors are wary of investing in it.

Even if your local curbside recycler doesn’t take these bags, there are thousands of locations at retail stores that accept them; Target and Meijer. Go to, type in your zip code, and you’ll find recyclers of virtually anything.

Because there are huge differences in recycling policies throughout the country, the only way you can be absolutely sure about any given category is to call or email your local recycling outfit and ask what they accept and what they don’t.

If they take a while to answer, I suggest you pass the time by reading John Byrne Barry’s Wasted, a mystery about a recycling center where, among numerous bizarre events, one of the center’s founders ends up squished in a huge bale of aluminum cans.

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