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Plastic Bag Recycling Encouraged in San Mateo

Beginning this month, San Mateo residents can drop off plastic bags for recycling at the Shoreway Environmental Center's Public Recycling Center in San Carlos.

Wondering what to do with all those extra plastic bags? Grocery bags, dry cleaning bags, produce bags -- they add up.

Beginning this month, San Mateo residents can drop off plastic bags for recycling at the Shoreway Environmental Center's Public Recycling Program free of charge.

RethinkWaste and South Bay Recycling launched the program Nov. 15 in honor of America Recycles Day.

Referred to as “film plastic,” the types of accepted plastic bags include grocery, dry cleaning, produce, bread and frozen food bags – basically any type of plastic bag that stretches when pulled. Shrink wrap is also accepted. The bags and shrink wrap must be clean and empty, with no food inside.

“We are excited to offer this new recycling service for a difficult to handle item that is now so common place in the waste stream,” Kevin McCarthy, Executive Director of RethinkWaste, said in a statement.

“We also continue to support our Member Agencies efforts and other public policy efforts to limit the use of plastic bags and support reusable bags and other more sustainable forms of packaging,” he said.

The Public Recycling Center also accepts a number of other items for recycling and also includes a Buy-Back area for California Redemption Value bottles and cans.

The center is open to the general public, including businesses, for buy-back items and some drop off items, but some limitations apply to universal waste items such as batteries and fluorescent tubes.

The following is the list of items that are also accepted for free at the Public Recycling Center, in addition to film plastic:

  • Cardboard*
  • Used motor antifreeze (up to 10 gallons)
  • Mixed paper
  • Latex paint (up to 10 gallons)
  • Glass
  • Electronics (computers, TVs, cell phones, etc.)
  • Cans
  • Household and car batteries
  • Plastic containers #1-7
  • Sharps (must be in authorized sharps container)
  • Used motor oil filters
  • Cooking oil (residential only up to 15 gallons)
  • Used motor oil (up to 15 gallons)
  • Clothing
  • Hard and soft cover books
  • Working household goods
  • Scrap metal
  • Fluorescent light tubes (household only, 6 tubes per visit, must be less than 6ft)

*There is also a purchase program for clean cardboard from customers with large volumes. A minimum of 300 pounds of clean cardboard is required for payment.

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