City bags bag collection

Takoma Park will no longer collect plastic bags for recycling. The change goes into effect July 1. Residents are asked instead to bring their grocery bags, newspaper bags, vegetable bags, bread bags, dry cleaning bags and plastic film to drop-off boxes at local stores. Residents are also urged to use re-usable bags as an alternative to plastic or paper bags.

The new policy is due to a decision made higher up the recycling chain at the Prince George’s County processing facility. The bags get too contaminated in the facility’s “single stream” process to be used for anything but land-fill, according to a county announcement.

Also, said the announcement, the bags jam and clog the facility’s automatic sorting machinery.

“We have been single stream for many years,” said Daryl Braithwaite, the city’s Public Works Department director. Although residents place recycling materials: paper, cans and bottles, newspapers and cardboard in separate containers or bundles for curbside collection, “we collect all recycling in the same truck,” she said.

“There are 2 main reasons for putting paper in paper bags or bundles. The first is to reduce the chance for the loose paper becoming litter – either as it sits at the curb or when we dump it into the truck. The second reason is bundles of paper are easier to separate from all the other recyclables at the facility and stay cleaner – increasing the amount of it that can be recycled,” said Braithwaite.

The city announcement about the change said many grocery stores and other retailers have plastic bag recycling collection programs at their stores, usually near the entrance. The city website has more information about what and how to recycle.

Though located in Montgomery County, which also does not collect plastic bags and film, Takoma Park conducts its own, independent recycling program. Takoma Park currently sends its recycling to the Prince George’s County processing facility, but it has used other private and government facilities over the years.

No longer accepted for city collection are: grocery, retail or trash plastic bags, bread bags, dry cleaning bags, fruit and vegetable bags (fresh/frozen), garden product bags (soil/mulch), newspaper bags, outer wrap from paper towel, napkin and diaper packages, outer wrap from cases of soda, juice and snacks, zipper or stand-up pouches, bubble or cling wrap, crinkle bags for cereal, pasta or snack bags, outer wrap from meat or cheese products.

The plasticfilmrecycling.org website purports to show local collection centers for these items. The Voice has not confirmed that the information is accurate. It lists:

• Shoppers, 6881 New Hampshire Ave, Takoma Park, MD

• Safeway, 909 Thayer Ave, Silver Spring, MD

• Whole Foods Market, 833 Wayne Ave., Silver Spring, MD

• Safeway, 6500 Piney Branch Rd NW Washington

• Wal-Mart Supercenter, 5929 Georgia Ave., NW Washington, DC