Most plastic bags are made with materials that are recyclable, unfortunately this doesn’t mean they can go into your curbside bin. This includes grocery store plastic bags, zip lock bags, newspaper cover slips, bread loaf bags, and anything similar. Why? Because due to their size and shape, they end up clogging machines at recycling facilities.
Curbside recycling in Dakota County is unique in that everything can be thrown into a single bin to be sorted out later at a recycling facility. These facilities have conveyor belts that feed the materials onto rotating tunnels, past magnets and spinning wheels in order to sort out the rigid plastics from the glass and the metals and so on. It just takes one bag to get caught and bring the entire operation to a halt, requiring an employee to remove the bag by hand; a time consuming, and possibly dangerous task.
So what do you do with them?
It’s not all bad news when it comes to recycling plastic bags. They still can be recycled, they just require a different system. Luckily, many retail stores and grocery stores offer free drop off locations for you to bring your bags to be properly recycled. Just take them there on your next trip! All you need to do is make sure it’s clean and remove any rigid parts including zippers, firm handles, and/or string ties. And of course, always try to reduce first by only taking plastic bags if you really need them. Consider a reusable bag instead!
Stores that offer plastic bag recycling at all locations
Note: All material must be clean and dry:
Cub Foods, Target, Whole foods, Walmart (super-centers), Rainbow Foods
*Some locations of Lunds & Byerlys, JCPenny’s, and Lowe’s also offer plastic bag recycling
Check out Recycling Association of Minnesota's It's in the Bag program here for more locations or to find the nearest location.
Frequently Asked Questions
What if I put my recyclables in a plastic bag to prevent machines from clogging-can it be recycled then?
Unfortunately no, the first step at many of these facilities is to sort the recyclables from any waste that might have found its way into the stream. If a recycling facility member sees a tied plastic bag, they most likely will assume its trash and throw it away.
What kind of plastic bags can’t go in curbside-is it just plastic grocery bags?
Ideally NO plastic bags (zip lock, grocery, film, newspaper slips…) should go in curbside recycling. Take them to a retail location instead.
Do all recycling/trash companies have the same rules?
No, they do not. Some will accept things that others will not however, currently there are no haulers that accept plastic bags through curbside collection. Check out our curbside guide to see what your hauler collects!