Plastic Bags and Stringy Items

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Plastic grocery bags have a bad rap – and for good reason: they are always trying to escape. If you place a plastic bag in the garbage, they’re so lightweight that they can blow away as soon as they’re off the truck. This means they escape into the environment and is one way many plastic bags end up in our oceans and rivers. When plastic bags are placed in your single stream recycling cart, they can get caught up in the equipment. This goes for any kind of plastic film, plastic bags, or stringy materials.

When recyclables are brought to the St. Lucie County Baling and Recycling Facility, they are processed by special equipment called a Single Stream System. We have manual sorters that remove hazardous materials from the lines, but many plastic bags, films, and stringy items get missed! Our equipment has several phases of sorting, some of which are called star screens. These screens are made up of several rubber disc-like stars that sort out cardboard and paper from the rest of the recyclables. When the plastic bags come through, they get wrapped around the star screens and interfere with the equipment’s ability to sort properly while causing unnecessary down time and maintenance (visit our Single Stream System Overview page to learn more about how our Single Stream equipment works).

String tangled in the recycling screen

Please do not place the following film or stringy items in your recycling cart:hen the bags and stringy materials are finally freed from the screens, they’re taken to the landfill where they’re once again at risk of escaping. Plastic bags can be recycled if you take them to your local grocery retailer. And of course, you can avoid them altogether by switching to reusable bags!

  • VHS tapes
  • Garden hoses
  • Electrical wires
  • Fishing lines
  • Six pack rings
  • Shrink wrap
  • Plastic wrap (Cling wrap, Saran wrap)
  • Christmas Lights
  • Extension cords
  • Bubble wrap
  • Rope
  • Rags and clothing