Can I recycle the plastic film? Brown County recycling expert offers advice

A new, unopened case of toilet paper. A bag of lettuce. The protective seal on dozens of household products and food containers.

Our lives are covered in plastic film. Open your pantry, fridge or desk drawer. There’s more plastic than you think.

Plastic films, casings and packaging are everywhere. As consumers, it’s unavoidable. These barriers are used to protect products from contamination or damage prior to purchase, but how do you prevent them from doing the same to the environment?

As tempting as it is to just throw the plastic wrap pieces in the trash, it’s not the best thing to do. On windy days, trash cans can open and pieces of plastic wrap can be easily picked up by the wind.

It quickly becomes a big waste problem, especially with tiny plastic films like the ones that cover a new pack of chewing gum or the tiny hard plastic seal on a new tube of mascara. These small items, as well as larger items like dog food bags, tissue multipack wrappers, toy wrappers, bread bags and many more can quickly wreak havoc in our community or at the discharge if the wind takes hold of it. If you look around, it’s not uncommon to see piles of plastic piled up along fence lines, landscaping, and buildings.

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What is the solution ? There are several eco-responsible approaches you can take.

► Many grocery stores, superstores or department stores have designated drop-off points for recycling clean plastic bags and wraps. Simply fill a plastic bag with other clean bags, wraps or film, tie the handles together to keep it compact and tidy, and set it down.

Putting everything in one bag so it’s compact is called densifying and it helps to keep films and lightweight plastics from blowing around in the wind. A list of outlets that accept plastic bags is available at

► If you cannot find a local recycler, you can dispose of the plastic bags and film in your garbage, BUT we ask that you still use the compaction/densification method described above.

► It is also important to be careful what you buy and see if you can buy items that are not wrapped in plastic. While smaller items at the grocery store, like grapes and Brussels sprouts, need a container to keep them from rolling around in your cart, buying a few apples or larger items is easier to save. manage without a bag. An alternative for keeping smaller foods in the basket is to collect reusable produce bags or mesh shopping bags.

► Speaking of shopping bags and single-use plastics, canvas tote bags are still a great option for shopping, and many stores offer a small discount for each reusable bag you use at checkout.

► And consider reusable sandwich, quart and gallon bags for your snacks and food storage. All of these approaches help keep films and plastics out of trash and landfills.

By taking good care of the little things in life – like plastics and films – we can make a big difference in our environment. For more recycling tips, follow Brown County Resource Recovery on Facebook, @browncountyrecycling.

Mark Walter is the Business Development Manager for Brown County Resource Recovery.

Bryce K. Locke