The US’ San Antonio Solid Waste Management Department (SWMD) has decided to stop accepting plastic bags in its blue recycling bins from 1 August 2024. 

The decision aims to address the complications plastic bags cause in the mixed recycling system. 

When placed in blue recycling carts, plastic bags can entangle with other materials and thereby become non-recyclable, the SWMD said.   

In addition, plastic bags and films can stick to recycling sorting equipment, leading to machinery malfunctions and inefficiencies. 

The department encourages residents to use retailer drop-off kiosks instead, which ensure that plastic bags are collected separately and can be recycled properly. 

To further mitigate their environmental impact, residents are advised to reduce the use of single-use plastic bags by opting for personal reusable bags and to dispose of any household plastic bags in their brown waste carts.  

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SWMD deputy director Josephine Valencia said: “The decision to stop accepting plastic bags in the blue recycling cart is not unique to San Antonio. 

“Of the nation’s ten other largest cities, none of them are accepting plastic bags in the blue cart. San Antonio kept them in its programme for several years, but operationally it hasn’t worked. 

“The change affects our 370,000 customers, but it is important to note that the city’s private hauling companies that collect from the remaining 2,081,000 population and commercial businesses have never accepted plastic bags in their recycling programmes.” 

The SWMD will provide more updates on these new guidelines to keep residents informed and help them comply with the new rules.