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King County to end curbside recycling of plastic bags in January

Separated plastics that have been bundled for shipping to remanufacturing facilities.
Courtesy of King County Solid Waste Division
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Separated plastics that have been bundled for shipping to remanufacturing facilities.

Starting in January, plastic bags will no longer be accepted in curbside recycling anywhere in King County.

Bags create a lot of issues for local recycling facilities. They wrap around sorting equipment, causing the machines to work less efficiently.

Jeff Gaisford, recycling and environmental services manager for the county, says the change will be similar to when Seattle banned plastic bags at stores two years ago — it will take some getting used to.

"Once people get used to it, it's kind of like bringing your reusable bag to the grocery store,” Gaisford said. “It becomes second nature."

Gaisford says the change will be less confusing for residents about where bags belonged on "trash day." Some cities in the county were recycling them, and others were not. The county is working to find and resolve other inconsistent guidelines.

County officials also want to make sure that any new materials a city wants to start recycling can be handled by waste facilities. The county recommends that residents take plastic bags to any of the 125 local retailers that collect them for recycling instead.

Rebekah Way is an on-call news host at KNKX. She began her career in public radio as a news intern at KNKX, where she's also worked as an interim producer and reporter. Rebekah holds a life-long passion for music and also works as a professional musician and educator in the Seattle area.