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Thursday, June 18, 2015

County DER Director says NO MORE PLASTIC BAGS in RECYCLING!

~SENT ON BEHALF OF THE DEPARTMENT OF THE ENVIRONMENT DIRECTOR, ADAM ORTIZ~


Dear Municipal Recyclers:

Thank you for the tremendous job you and your communities are doing to preserve valuable resources by recycling.  Due to your efforts, Prince George’s County has achieved a recycling rate of 59.53 percent and a waste diversion rate of 64.53 percent.  No program is successful without the support of the community and your continued support is vital to the ongoing success of the Prince George’s County Residential Curbside Single-Stream Recycling Program. 

Currently, plastic bags and plastic wrap are being accepted at the County’s Material Recycling Facility (MRF).  However, starting July 1, 2015, the County will no longer accept plastic bags or plastic film in its Residential Curbside Recycling Single-Stream Program. Residents who receive County recycling pick-up services were notified of this change via a post card mailing and other sources of notification last month.

In an effort to maximize recycling, the County began accepting disposable plastic grocery store and retail shopping bags and plastic film within its Residential Curbside Single-Stream Recycling Program.  Initially, some of the bags were captured and sold to recycling vendors to make lumber-like material and benches. However, vendors will no longer purchase the bags from the County’s recycling program because the bags become contaminated when mixed with the other recyclables.

In addition, the equipment at the Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) is not designed to remove plastic bags.  Consequently, sorting the bags has become a manual process and many bags still get through to the automated sorting system causing serious mechanical problems.  The plastic bags and plastic wrap become entangled in the equipment causing jams and system wide shut downs and thousands of dollars in repairs.

Rather than continue the practice of accepting plastic bags and plastic wrap in the Residential Curbside Single-Stream Recycling Program, the County will develop an educational outreach campaign to notify the public of recycling and reuse alternatives.  One alternative is to take plastic bags to local grocery stores or retailers with a plastic bag recycling program.  Many plastic bags are printed with source reduction tips and messages encouraging reuse or recycling with the originating retailer.  Most grocery stores have recycling collection boxes located in their main entrances.  Thus, the bags can remain clean and be recycled once they are taken back to the stores.

We also encourage residents to use reusable bags when shopping to avoid the use of plastic altogether.  Reusable bags are sturdier than plastic bags and can be used for a longer period of time.  Additionally, most reusable bags can be machine washed to eliminate dirt and contaminants.

Our goal is to reinforce this message to as many County citizens and residents as possible; therefore, your assistance in disseminating the information is key. Attached is a frequently asked questions document that addresses some of the concerns your residents may have regarding the new policy, as well as other marketing materials promoting the change.  If you require any other
electronic information, please contact Linda Lowe via email atlmlowe@co.pg.md.us. for assistance.

Thanks in advance for your continued cooperation and commitment to protecting and preserving the environment through recycling.  Please feel free to contact me or Roger E. Merritt, Jr., Associate Director, Waste Management Division, at (301) 952-7625 should you need additional information.


Sincerely,

Adam Ortiz



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