Beginning January 1, 2020 Kent County will no longer accept plastic shopping bags in curbside recycling.

The county's Department of Public Works (DPW) director states

Over the last several years, it has become increasingly difficult to sort bags from the other recyclables and the bags aren’t able to be recycled after they pass through a system like ours.

Even though plastic is recyclable the bags in particular make things difficult as they can get mixed in paper bales and tangled in equipment which cause shutdowns. The picture below shows a worker clearing the plastic bags off the machine at the Recycling & Education Center.

Kent County Department of Public Works
Kent County Department of Public Works

Since there isn't a recycling market specifically for the bags, the county has been paying to send them to a facility in Indiana to be burned. Instead, residents are encouraged to take their [dry and clean] shopping bags to a store that has a collection system for the bags such as Meijer. According to the store's Director of Sustainability,

We send these bags to external partners who recycle them into high-quality manufactured goods.

You can use this website to find drop-off locations in your area for plastic bags which also include Kohl's, Target, Lowe's, and Wal-Mart stores.

You can get more info here.

In addition to the plastic bags, you also will not be able to put shredded paper in curbside recycling beginning Jan. 1 because they are too small to be detected and sorted through.

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