- Residents in Fort Collins, CO can now bring plastic bags and other film products to the city's Timberline Recycling Center, as reported by the Coloradoan.
- The city spent $5,000 on new drop-off bins that are enclosed with sliding tops to keep the material from getting wet. A contractor will use the material to make plastic struts for pallets.
- The city will decide whether to continue this program past April after assessing the results. So far, residents have dropped off an estimated five cubic yards of material.
Fort Collins previously offered this service at another recycling facility, but the bin was often overstuffed and material left next to it created litter conditions. Following a request from local council members, the city decided to try again. This new method can accept more material with less potential for contamination. It also presents a way to keep up on waste from plastic bags since a 5-cent fee ordinance was repealed.
Retail drop-off bins are already common in Fort Collins and municipalities throughout the country, though it's less common to see city-managed options. Industry groups have been working to expand drop-off locations through partnerships with states such as Connecticut, Wisconsin and North Carolina. The Environmental Protection Agency also signed on as a partner last year.
As cities and states continue to debate the effectiveness of regulating plastic bags, the question of recycling viability is a common talking point. Like anything else, polyethylene film can be recycled into new products when enough clean material is collected but the infrastructure needed to do that efficiently is still evolving. Grant funding for new processes and recent research findings around polymer additives could help improve the economics of this process.