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Skip Navigation LinksDNREC : News : Plastic carryout shopping bags should be returned to store collection bins, not put out for curbside recycling

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 Contact: Michael Globetti, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Plastic carryout shopping bags should be returned to store
collection bins, rather than put out for curbside recycling

DOVER (Aug. 16, 2013) – With every aspect of recycling in Delaware humming along, DNREC’s Recycling Team is emphasizing that plastic carryout shopping bags can gum up the works of the state’s recycling efforts if not properly disposed of. Clean carryout plastic bags should be returned to the retail and grocery stores where collection containers are provided, rather than put out for curbside pickup. This is a change to earlier curbside recycling instructions.

Plastic carryout bags, when put in Delaware’s curbside residential recycling bins, have the unfortunate tendency to clog machines at recycling centers and hinder the progress of the state’s Universal Recycling Program. Even the carryout bags billed as “biodegradable” can only be broken down under specific conditions, and that does not include the marine environment (oceans and waterways). Returning the bags to the at-store plastic bag recycling bins is the best option.

Delaware is into the final implementation phase of the state’s Universal Recycling Law, which will occur January 1, 2014 when commercial recycling becomes a requirement for the state’s business, institutional, and government sectors. The website at provides resources such as sector-specific toolkits to help organizations recycle. To help small businesses that don’t know where to start, the DSWA and DNREC offer an informal analysis of your waste stream and waste management practices and helpful recommendations are provided at no cost to your business. Contact DSWA at 800-404-7080 for more information. Participating businesses will be highlighted as a Delaware Recycler.

The first phase of Universal Recycling implementation, for single-family dwellings, went into effect September 2011, followed by multi-family residences January 1, 2013.  Waste service providers, typically a waste collector or property manager, are required to provide recycling collection services where they provide trash collection services. They are also required to provide information to the residents on how to recycle. Each program may be a little different, but DNREC and the DSWA published a helpful How To Recycle guide available at .

Vol. 43, No. 314

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