This summer, you may meet one of our Recycling Docents at the Orcas Transfer Station when you drop off your recycling. Docents are there to help educate everyone on how to recycle better. They also try to catch non-recyclable materials before they end up contaminating a load of co-mingled recycling, But sometimes we are not fast enough. The biggest offender is certainly plastic film. Plastic bags, plastic wrap, air-filled packaging like bubble wrap, and so on. The worst example is when legitimate recycling (like tin cans, office paper or plastic bottles) comes in a large plastic bag. It makes no difference if it is black or clear–plastic bags are a no-no. Other plastic items that do not go into co-mingled recycling include bread wrappers, sandwich baggies, plastic packing pillows, and single-use plastic shopping bags from stores. Some day ORS hopes to be able to collect and process plastic film. But until then, all of it needs to go into the trash.
Here are a couple YouTube videos that help explain this. The shorter first one stresses at the end to “…keep plastic bags out of recycling…”, and the longer second one will give you an idea of how co-mingled recycling is processed–it is very interesting. Watch that one to see how many times it says to keep plastic bags out of recycling. Applied education is the answer to recycling smarter and better. If you have any questions, check in with staff or a docent the next time you drop off your recycling!