Garbage belongs in a bag! It’s smelly, sloppy, wet and disgusting. For goodness sake, we should do everything possible to seal it off from the outside world and avoid having to get our hands dirty with that putrid stuff. Since its creation in 1950, the garbage bag has shielded us from contact with vile and rotten rubbish.

You’ll notice that you never hear the term “recycling bag”. There’s a reason for that; recycling, by definition, isn’t wet, putrid, sloppy, smelly or even remotely disgusting. Recyclables are best deposited directly into a recycling bin without any type of liner whatsoever. Bags for recycling are unnecessary for the handling, transportation and processing. It’s senseless to spend money on bags, and now it just got super costly to do so. Read on and I’ll explain why.

Recyclers have always hated plastic bags. Plastic bags are bad for the environment and are a recycling processing facilities worst nightmare. Plastic bags get wrapped up in in the moving parts of conveyors, screens and separators. It’s very costly for a plant to shut down for the sole purpose of cutting out the bags that have gotten entangled in their equipment. Processors want to get you to stop messing with their equipment.

The far greater problem is that of appearances. Remember, the garbage bag was designed to hide what’s inside, and that’s ideal if the contents are indeed garbage. But recyclers get frightened when they see bags that could have ANYTHING in them. For all they know, bags could contain clean cardboard or just as easily a weeks’ worth of leftovers from your refrigerator. Upon seeing bags in recycling bins, hauling companies are now rejecting these containers and downgrading the contents to garbage. They are automatically charging exorbitant fees for “contamination” when they actually have no idea whether you’re recycling properly or not.

With the downturn in world recycling markets, haulers and processors can no longer afford to play “Russian Roulette” with their incoming materials. In order to remain solvent (forget about profitable), they need to become increasingly vigilant in enforcing quality standards. This cannot be accomplished as long as consumers continue to hide the contents in garbage bags.

Professionally this is a huge challenge. Homeowners and business alike love the liner! Companies have trained their employees to dispose of everything in bags. It seems like they’ve had their purchasing department buy a lifetime supply of bags, and they are determined to use every-last one of them.

If you’re interested in doing the right thing for the environment, and avoiding huge contamination fees, Lose the liner now!

For more information on how plastic bags interrupt the recycling processing,

Need more value out of your waste program?

    Marshall Staiman, LEED Green Associate

    Marshall Staiman, LEED Green Associate

    President at Talismark

    The author is an owner at Talismark, a national waste and recycling outsource management company that services retail and commercial businesses throughout the United States. He is Harvard Business School case study participant and lecturer, he’s been featured in Forbes magazine, and has placed on Inc. 500/5000 list of fastest growing companies two years running. 

    About Talismark

    Talismark is a Waste Solutions Management Company that custom designs waste management programs to champion sustainability and compliance with measurable results.  Creating a customer experience that captures value, reduces cost, and saves resources!