Archived Story

How do you recycle plastic grocery bags?

Published 11:33am Thursday, January 3, 2013

Column: Solid Waste Officer, by Randy Tuchtenhagen

Are you recycling everything you are able? We get many inquiries from residents about being able to recycle specific items and sometimes very odd items.

Remember, our curbside recycling program focuses on food and beverage containers and paper, and we are not in the junk or trash business. Also keep in mind that there are other recycling opportunities besides our curbside collection program. Let’s explore some household items not many people are recycling and should be.

Remember our slogan, “No plastic bags, no exception”?

Randy Tuchtenhagen

Well there is a place you can recycle plastic film wrap like grocery bags and other items. Walmart, Nelson’s Market Place and Hy-Vee Foods all have recycling containers in the entrance to their stores for you to recycle plastic bags. But they also take other plastic film wrap such as: newspaper bags, dry cleaning and bread bags, napkin and paper towel wrap, and clean plastic food storage bags. If you purchase some electronic equipment, the parts often come in plastic bags. Recycle them, at these stores.

How about books? Yes, we do recycle books, and the recycling company would like you to leave the covers on. Simply place books, file folders, brochures, junk mail and laundry, cereal and cookie boxes on the curb with your other recycling materials.

You do not have to worry about metal spirals, staples, paper clips, glue, the plastic window envelope or plastic on the tissue box. With the new technology in processing equipment the mills are better at handling what was once considered contamination.

How about recycling those ink jet cartridges from the printer? When purchasing new ones do you ask about recycling the old one? If not, you should.

Many stores want the old ones back for recycling, and there is a market demand for them. At the very least you can pick up some shipping bags at our office that are self addressed and postage paid to mail them to a recycler. Totally recyclable is also true of the printer itself, keyboards, mouse, speakers and related wiring for the computer.

All can be brought to one of our electronic collections held twice a year. There may be charges for some large items and markets vary from year to year. Plans are currently being made to hold two electronic collections in 2013.

Just in case you have something that fell outside of this list, here are a few suggestions. We do not accept waxy coated or laminated paper products that came from the refrigerator or freezer, and it’s really nice of you to flatten your corrugated cardboard and cut them down to a manageable size for the recycling driver.

He makes hundreds of stops each day in heavy traffic, cold and heat, lifting cans chest high and provides us with excellent service. These drivers are hard-working, dedicated people who are drug-free and hold commercial driver’s licenses. We can help them do a good job by having our containers out early and following the program guidelines as listed on the recycling information and instruction sheets. Keep up the good work, recyclers!


Randy Tuchtenhagen is the Freeborn County solid waste officer.