Plastic bags, loose bottle caps not OK in Carmel’s recycling bins


By Sam Elliott

The City of Carmel and its trash and recycling contractor, Republic Services, want the public to be aware of a pair of changes to their recycling guidelines in an effort to keep the process running smoothly at recycling centers.

Plastic bags — as well as any other soft plastic items like plastic wrapping or bubble wrap — can no longer be placed in residents’ curbside bins.

“Anything you can poke your finger through, they’re asking those things not be put in the co-mingled bins for pickup,” said Carmel Utilities’ Sue Maki, manager of environmental initiatives and education. “Those plastic bags get caught in these drums that spin around that help sort things and move things along. They get caught in there and jam the machine. They have to stop the assembly line, go and pull out the plastic bags and restart it up again, and that’s happening multiple times per day.”

Plastic bags can still be recycled if taken to merchants who offer in-store recycling. Items collected there are sent to unique facilities designed to process plastic bags.

Another hazard for conventional recycling sorting machines are plastic bottle caps, which can be recycled but only if they’re still attached to their bottles.

“People tend to keep them off, but now we just ask that you keep them on the bottles,” Maki said. “The rule of thumb is for anything smaller than a credit card, don’t throw it in the recycling cart because it doesn’t get sorted properly. With bottle caps, which are mostly small things, just leave them on the bottle.”

In addition to the changes, Maki reminds residents to avoid trying to recycle items like Styrofoam or egg cartons, cardboard pizza boxes contaminated with even just a little bit of grease as well as yard and landscape waste — all items commonly found in Republic’s roadside bins that cannot be recycled.

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