Education, Environment, Government

Do You Put Bags in Recycling Bins? Well OCRRA Says It’s Wrong

By Brittany Henderson SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — Reducing the use of plastic bags has become a major cause for environmentalists, however, local authorities are concerned people don’t know how to best recycle them.

According to OCRRA Public Informations Officer Kristen Lawton plastic bags are a major issue on a littering level and recycling level because a lot of people assume that because they are plastic, they should go in the recycling bins.

“Plastic bags can be recycled but just not in your blue bin,” said Lawton.

Instead of the putting them in the blue recycling bins plastic bags are supposed to be recycled by bringing them to big box stores that give them out to customers. According to Lawton it is required by law for those stores to take the bags back and recycle them.

Along with the bigger impacts on the environments, plastic bags can be problematic at the recycling centers.

“They actually gum up the machinery when they get to the recycling sorting facility and they contaminate the rest of the recycling stream,” said Lawton. That is why OCRRA officials ask Onondaga residents to avoid putting plastic bags in the recycling bins or putting recyclable items into plastic bags to recycle them.

According to the OCRRA America recycles 400 million pounds of material per year, while Onondaga County recycles 70 million pounds per year. When plastic bags contaminate the other recyclable products, the numbers could decrease.

New York is one of several states that are considering banning plastic bags. Lawton says communities all over New York are already doing things to prevent plastic bags from setting into the landfill. 

Fourteen municipalities have already made authoritative actions against the use of plastic bags by putting fees on plastic bags or banning them

For now, Lawton suggests that instead of using plastic bags people should just use reusable bags.