It’s widely accepted that recycling is a good idea, but what happens when an item is recycled incorrectly?

New Bedford Recycling is warning the public about plastic bags and plastic wrap, and the trouble they cause if they are disposed of in recycling carts.

Things are getting tangling at the facility, and here’s how to fix it.

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The Problem

Marissa Perez-Dormitzer is the waste reduction manager for the Greater New Bedford Regional Refuse Management District, and she shared the ongoing problem at the recycling sorting facility when it comes to plastic bags and plastic wrap.

“Residents are putting items in the cart that are not accepted in the (recycling) program, and when these materials go to the facility, the items wrap around the machinery,” she said. “(Workers) have to stop all the machines and send workers to cut the items out.”

The items are known as “tanglers”. Items that can get wrapped around the machine, like plastic bags, plastic wraps, t-shirts, hoses, and cords, that force production to halt until the tanglers are taken care of.

Perez-Dormitzer and her team recently toured the recycling facility in Rochester run by E.L. Harvey and saw firsthand how plastic bags and clothing were wrapped around the equipment.

“We saw a bunch of phone cords, too,” she said. “Those don’t belong in the recycling."

The Solution

Long story short, stop recycling items that tangle.

“At grocery stores, many of them have programs where you can bring clean plastic wrap and bags in,” shared Perez-Dormitzer. “They end up being made into plastic lumber that can be used for decks, benches, and other things.”

If you are ever unsure about an item, don’t play the guessing game. Go to the New Bedford city website and use the Recyclopedia.

“Residents can type in any item and they can find out what to do with it,” said Perez-Dormitzer.

Recycling the correct way will only improve the city, the state, and ultimately, the rest of the world. So, recycle wisely.

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