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Bags are NO LONGER accepted in your Recycling Bin!

 (As of June 2019)

Plastic bags and film have always been a challenge in the recycling world. They are very difficult to contain if loose and get stuck in equipment. Disappearing markets along with the high cost of labor required to process them has forced us to remove them from our recycling program (See full press release). As one of very few recycling companies who accepted plastic bags, we do not make this announcement lightly.

We encourage you to reduce and reuse by bringing your own reusable bags (#BYOBSF) to the store and opting for paper instead of plastic. Without an easy recycling option, it is our hope that people will begin to realize the overall negative impact plastic bags have on the environment and will start to avoid them altogether.

Clean plastic bags and film can still be brought to participating grocery stores and other retailers with separated collection bins (see below).

Where to Bring Your Bags:

• Trex Film Recycling Program: Participating South Dakota stores include Econofoods, Family Thrift Center, Hy-Vee, Kohl’s, Nash Finch (Sunshine Foods), Sun Mart and Target. Learn more.
• Wrap Recycling Action Program (WRAP):  See a list of local retail stores in the WRAP directory who accept plastic bags and film packaging. Learn more.

The PROBLEM With Plastic Bags in the Bin

Plastic bags must be pulled out by hand, making them very labor intensive and difficult to capture.

If not pulled out, plastic bags wrap around recycling equipment and quickly jam up processing screens.

When too many bags get stuck, we have to shut down the equipment and manually cut them out.

Plastic bags easily escape bins, trucks and landfills, littering our land and waterways.

Q&A

  • • Due to low market conditions, end-users who make recycled products are no longer taking bags and film from mixed recycling programs, only from “clean” separated sources like retail drop-off locations.
  • • This has left mixed recycling facilities like Millennium in a tough spot – having to work with the many private haulers in our area and educate the public to stop putting bags in the bin.
  • • Previously, the issues created by bags were worth it to be able to recycle the material. Now that bags are no longer able to “move” (or be sent to end-users), it makes no sense to invest all of the time, effort and money to sort bags out if ultimately the only place they can go is the landfill – hence the push to remove bags from the recycling bin.
  • • Plastic film is the industry term for all plastic bag, wrap and film material.
  • • Examples include bread bags, grocery bags, trash bags, bubble wrap, air pillows, saran wrap, case wrap, etc – see more examples here.
  • • With nowhere to send the plastic bags from mixed recycling, any received at Millennium are manually pulled out, baled up, stored, and then sent to the landfill if no downstream processors will take them.
  • • This results in more material going to the landfill, higher trash fees for Millennium, and higher contamination fees for waste haulers when we have to work to pull bags out of the loads.
  • • As of December 2019, six full-time employees are still required to pull bags off the line (the same amount as before the ban).
  • • Stress on the equipment caused by loose film and bags wrapping around the system continues.
  • • Excess time and maintenance required to pull bags out or cut them loose from equipment continues.
  • • Making tough decisions about materials we accept is part of our business. Removing an item does NOT happen often (bags are the first material in YEARS that have been removed).
  • • Items we collect are solely based on market need and the ability to move materials to our end-users. When we decided to accept bags in the past, we were one of VERY FEW in the entire country who made the extra effort to include them in the mixed recycling. We felt strongly that if they could be recycled, we wanted to make it easy for people to recycle them.
  • • When there is no need for an item we collect, our only option is to store it or send it the landfill.  Unfortunately, the market need for bags has dropped drastically in recent years and we do not expect it to rebound.
  • • We are at capacity with the amount of bags we are storing and with the amount that is still coming in, we’ve had to start sending bags to the landfill.
  • • To reduce the amount going to the landfill (and help your waste hauler and private recyclers out), public understanding and participation is vital.
  • • Shredded paper is the ONLY exception to the no plastic bags rule. You can still use plastic bags for shredded paper and tightly tie it shut to give us a chance to collect it all. We will pull it out, rip it open to sort out the shredded paper, and dispose of the plastic bag.
  • • You can find more info on what you can include in the bin with each category here.
  • • The No Bags rule applies to all waste haulers who deliver recycling to Millennium. Find a list here to see if this includes your hauler.
  • • If your hauler is not on the list or has communicated something different, please check with them how they prefer recyclables. Some rural and smaller waste haulers still want material bagged so they can transport it between trucks.
  • • If any bags or bagged material is delivered to Millennium, it is treated as a contaminant and fees may apply to cover the cost of labor, handling, transportation, and disposal.
  • • If you haven’t already, stop putting plastic bags, wrap and film in your recycling bin.
  • • Bring your plastic bag or film waste to drop-off locations who can still accept them.
  • • Reduce the amount of bags you’re using by avoiding products with excessive film packaging and/or bringing your own bag to the store (#byob).
  • • Spread the word with your friends and family that bags are no longer allowed in the recycling bin!

At Millennium, we sincerely appreciate the support of the community and the avid recyclers who are trying to do the right thing. As a small, private business, we are always looking for ways to streamline our process to ensure we can provide cost-effective recycling services while supporting our ultimate goal of diverting materials from the landfill.

Now that bags are no longer able to be recycled in the single stream, we continue to work with community groups and other partners in the area to try to reduce the use of them in the first place and lessen the amount going to the landfill.

Have an idea to get the word out? Let us know!

Plastic Bag FACTS

Plastic bags kill 100,000 marine animals every year

The average plastic bag is used for just 12 minutes

Nearly 2 million plastic bags are used every minute

Plastic bags take up to 1000 years to disintegrate