ACUA Urges Residents to Stop Recycling Common Household Item


The Atlantic County Utilities Authority (ACUA) is urging all residents to stop throwing their plastic bags into their recyclables.

While most people are accustomed to the idea of having their local utilities authority come around once a week to collect trash and recyclables, you may be surprised to find out that there's one popular household item that thousands of people across South Jersey are throwing in the wrong can.

Almost anywhere you can shop, you receive some type of plastic bag to carry your purchased items. And while they’re great to reuse, they’ve become a nuisance for the folks over at the ACUA.

“Plastic bags are troublesome in the recycling process. First of all, on the road, before they’re even picked up, they tend to blow all over the place in windy conditions, like we have down here at the shore. When they get to the recycling center, they tend to gum up all of the machinery that separates valuable recycling,” said Richard Dovey, President of ACUA.

ACUA uses single stream recycling, and plastic bags get mixed in with cans, bottles, newspapers, and other valuable recyclables. They end up getting caught up in the machinery, which means employees have to take time to climb in and scrape them out.

ACUA workers collect thousands of bags from the machines daily and bail them together. If there’s an available market, the bags will get sent out, but they are worth little to no value.

“In the recycling center here, they’re actually used as walls between the valuable recyclable commodities, but you can only use so many of them,” said Dovey. “...if you can avoid using plastic bags in any way, shape, matter, form, that’s probably the most effective thing.”

According to ACUA, instead of throwing your empty or filled plastic bags into your recycling bin, find a way to reuse them or avoid them all together.

“We encourage people to take their plastic bags and film and return it to the place they got it, to a food store, at a shopping center, or at the dry cleaners. If you return your plastic material there, it can be recycled in a much more efficient and effective way,” said Dovey.

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