City of Madison will no longer recycle plastic bags; Here’s where you can take yours so they don’t end up in a landfill

MADISON, Wis. — The City of Madison announced last week that it would no longer recycle plastic bags. It recommends taking them to collection sites so they don’t end up in a landfill and can be repurposed in an environmentally friendly way.

Tim Metcalfe, who owns Metcalfe’s grocery stores, has had his collection site in place for about 15 years. He said he empties his bins once a day but predicts he will have to do so more often now that the City is cancelling its plastic bag recycling program.

“Customers come in, put them in these receptacles right here and then we consolidate all this after a week period of time and give it to our wholesaler,” he said.

Metcalfe’s works with a company called Trex which recycles plastic bags and makes outdoor products. Other retailers, such as Target, Hy-Vee, Woodman’s, etc. partner with their own wholesalers who use the plastic bags to repurpose into other items.

City of Madison’s Recycling Coordinator Bryan Johnson said plastic bags are “terrible for sorting facilities.”

“We were one of the few places in the country that was trying to have plastic bags on the cart like that,” Johnson said. “What happens in the recycling facilities is they get wrapped around the screen, they clog robots, there’s all sorts of problems.”

In Wisconsin, it’s against the law to ban plastic bags or tax them. So, Johnson recommends either stop using plastic bags and switch to reusable ones, or take plastic bags to one of the various drop off locations to make sure they’re recycled properly.

If people continue to try to recycle plastic bags, Johnson said they’ll just end up in the trash.

“Right now in the City of Madison, it’s 18.9% of what’s in our recycling is trash and shouldn’t be there.”

Here is a list of where you can take your plastic bags to be properly recycled.