Plastic Bags No Longer Accepted in St. Mary’s County Single Stream Recycling

A Southern Maryland News Net article (2016-01-19) announced that plastic bags and plastic film will no longer be accepted as part of single stream recycling in St. Mary’s County due to damage to recycling and sorting equipment. Instead, these products must now be recycled separately at participating local stores. From the article:

St. Mary’s County has been informed that plastic bags and plastic film can no longer be recycled with the other single stream recyclables currently collected at the six Convenience Centers. Plastic bags (i.e. grocery, tall kitchen, and heavy duty bags) create operational problems, safety concerns, and hazards to the processor’s equipment, specifically the conveyor belts used in sorting single stream recyclables…Loads with plastic bags/plastic film will be considered “contaminated” and rejected, causing additional fees for the County and zero credit toward its recycling efforts. …

St. Mary’s County is researching user-friendly alternatives for the separate collection of plastic bags, evaluating TREX as a recycling possibility, and exploring the feasibility of using other recycling processors. The County appreciates those citizens who realize the environmental and cost benefits of recycling and trust recycling efforts will continue.

The article also noted that St. Mary’s County ranks third out of Maryland counties with populations of 150,000 or less with a 2014 recycling rate of 44.2% and a waste diversion rate of just over 50%.