The Kent County Recycling & Education Center will no longer accept plastic shopping bags and shredded paper starting Jan. 1, 2020, the Kent County Department of Public Works (DPW) announced today.
“Our goal is to get all materials that come into our facility into recycling markets,” said Dar Baas, Kent County DPW director. “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.”

A Kent County employee cleans plastic bags and other ‘tanglers’ from the sorting equipment at the Recycling & Education Center.

Plastic bags create operational challenges at recycling sorting centers, including shutdowns from the bags tangling around machinery and bags mixing with bales of paper. Lacking a recycling market for bags from curbside recycling collection, Kent County has paid to send them to an engineered fuel facility in Indiana. This is the only recyclable item sorted by Kent County that does not go to a recycling market.

The recycling industry standard is to encourage residents to take bags back to retail shopping centers that offer a clean, dry collection system specifically for bags. If residents have clean, dry plastic bags they would like to recycle, Kent County DPW encourages people to drop off plastic bags at participating stores.

 

Shredded paper contaminates glass that has been sorted for recycling. Shredded paper is no longer accepted at the Kent County Recycling & Education Center.

Additionally, the Recycling & Education Center will no longer accept shredded paper which is often too small to get detected and sorted accordingly. Kent County encourages residents to shred and dispose of only what is necessary for security purposes and recycle whole pieces of paper.

For more information about recycling plastic bags and other items, visit reimaginetrash.org/bags.