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Where to recycle plastic in Salt Lake City

What types of plastic can be recycled in Salt Lake City?

Salt Lake City’s curbside recycling service accepts plastic with resin codes #1-7. Remember that just because these numbers or the recycling symbol are present on the bottom of a container means that it is recyclable. The resin codes are meant only to indentify what type of plastic was used in the production of the item. Recyclability is based on many other factors and varies between companies and regions.

Review the different types of plastic here.

Once plastic materials and other recyclables are collected from your curbside bin, they are transported and sorted at the Waste Management Materials Recovery Facility (MRF). From there they are baled and sent to their purchasers for processing.

Plastics #1 and #2 are the most commonly and easily recycled, followed by #4 and #5. Numbers 3, 6, and 7 are sold to a local cement plant who burns these plastics as fuel for their kiln. Because of this, I have wavered between which is the lesser of two evils: throwing plastic away and adding plastic to the landfill where it will sit, not biodegrading and possibly leaching chemicals into the ground; or adding them to the recycling bin to be incinerated for energy, decreasing use of virgin fossil fuels, but releasing nasty chemicals into our already bad air.

The best solution of all is of course to do your best avoid plastic as much as possible in the first place. Click here to discover what plastic items you can eliminate from your life.

What plastic doesn’t belong in the blue curbside recycling can?

Plastic Film

Plastic films are made from polyethylene (PE), #2 & #4.

Examples include:

  • Retail, carryout, produce, newspaper, bread, and dry cleaning bags
  • Zip-top food storage bags
  • Plastic shipping envelopes, bubble wrap and air pillows
  • Product wrap on cases of water/soda bottles, paper towels, napkins, disposable cups, bathroom tissue, diapers, and female sanitary products
  • Furniture and electronic wrap
  • Plastic cereal box liners
  • Any film packaging or bag that has the How2Recycle Label

These materials are the #1 thing found by the city’s auditors that don’t belong in curbside bins. These materials tend to clog up facility sorting machinery, causing it be be shut down until it can be removed. The Waste Management facility does plan to upgrade the system in the future to accommodate these types of plastics, but for now, keep them out. However, plastic film can still be recycled at other locations.

Where to recycle plastic bags and other plastic film in Salt Lake City

There are many locations in the valley that have bins in their store entrances to collect plastic film for recycling. My only gripe is that the bins are tiny and fill up fast. Perhaps if more people used them they would place larger collection vessels…

Stores with plastic film recycling drop-off bins include:

Recyclops is a recycling service available in Salt Lake County, as well as other counties throughout the state. This company picks up harder to recycle items from your house, including plastic films. Textiles, light bulbs, and batteries are also included; styrofoam and clamshell pickup is available for an additional fee.

Plastic Film Reuse

Besides store drop offs for grocery bags, you can take them to Plasticity. You can also volunteer at this non-profit to help weave the bags into “plarn”, essentially plastic yarn, which is used to create items like tote bags, baskets, and mats.

Styrofoam (Expanded Polystyrene/ EPS)

Contact Marko Foam about recycling block styrofoam. No other types of styrofoam is recycled locally.

Hard-to-Recycle Plastic Items

Subaru dealerships have a partnership with Terracycle to collect straws, plastic and styrofoam cups/lids, coffee pods, creamer capsules, and candy/snack wrappers for recycling.

Check for the next Utah Recycling Alliance CHaRMS event for other hard to recycle items.

Any brand of plastic beauty, skin care, hair care, or hygiene product packaging (bottles, tubes, pumps, etc.) can be dropped off at all Nordstrom and Rack locations, the Fashion Place Sephora, or City Creek L’Occitane to be recycled.

Learn more about beauty packaging here.

Learn more how you can reduce your plastic waste here.

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