Norfolk County will no longer accept recycling in plastic bags as of December 1.

Instead, residents are asked to use recycling boxes – one for paper products and one for containers.

The bags cause a variety of problems, including jamming up conveyor belts, which slow down the sorting process and drive up recycling costs.

Staff at the Material Recovery Centre must also manually rip open each bag for sorting, and the contents are often contaminated by food or other waste, rendering the entire package unrecyclable.

That means paying for extra trips to the landfill.

Though technically recyclable, there is also little post-consumer demand for the bags themselves.

Feedback from residents indicates that most who use bags for recycling do so to prevent material from blowing onto the road. There are a number of ways to prevent this from happening, including:

  • Don’t overfill your recycling box. Keep material below the rim to prevent wind from blowing material away.
  • Put recycling out in the morning. Putting recycling curbside by 7 a.m. reduces exposure to the elements.
  • Save it. If high winds are forecasted, consider holding on to your material until the following week.
  • Pack neatly. Place material in a neat manner to fit in more material which will make your recycling box heavier.
  • Weigh it down. Place heavier materials on top of lighter material to keep it in.
  • Improvise. If you have more material than your boxes can hold, try using a large box, plastic container or laundry basket.

Norfolk County has been running an education campaign about the changes, including leaving notes for residents who bag their recycling, a mail-out in the most recent water bill, social media posts, a video and more.

Recycling bins are provided free to all residents (two per household). They can be picked up in Simcoe (50 Colborne St.), Delhi (183 Main St.) and Langton (22 Albert St.). For more information, visit norfolkcounty.ca/living/garbage-and-recycling/recycling/.