Newspaper bags are recyclable, just not in curbside bin

I have a question. It says on the plastic bag that the newspaper comes in that it — the bag — is recyclable. Others tell me our bin doesn't take it. Please explain. Thank you for your time.

— Donald Phillips, Phoenix

We're here at your, well, disposal, Donald.

Regarding your query, we contacted Denise Barnes, recycling coordinator extraordinaire for Rogue Disposal & Recycling. She says most people regard those three curved arrows as the universal symbol for recycling — but that isn't absolute.

"So many things say they're recyclable on them, but it doesn't mean they're recycled locally," Barnes says.

She adds that plastic bags like ones that hold the morning paper or the ones you use to tote your groceries actually gum up the works in their commingled recycling system. So much so, that recycling officials have to stop the machines to cut any plastic off the equipment that finds its way in.

"It is a huge contamination in the commingle system," Barnes says.

But don't lose hope. There are green options for dealing with your plastic bags. Many local grocery stores have receptacles — often near the bottle and can return machines — where you can drop off used bags. Rogue Disposal also accepts the bags at its plastic roundup events. The spring roundup is set for sometime near the end of May, but an official date has not yet been confirmed, Rogue Disposal officials said.


Correction: in Monday's Since You Asked response on gas prices, we confused the year Barack Obama was first elected, 2008, and the year he was first president, 2009. Armed with the correct information, we can now tell you that Oregon gas prices hit a low of about $1.90 a gallon in late January 2009 and a high of about $4.28 a gallon in May 2012.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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