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San Antonio News

San Antonio Bans Single-Use Plastic Bags from Blue Recycling Carts Starting August 1

Starting August 1, the San Antonio Solid Waste Management Department (SWMD) will no longer accept single-use plastic bags in the blue recycling cart, even if they are bundled. This change aims to address the issues caused by processing plastic bags in the mixed recycling system.

What Residents Need to Know

  • Do Not Place Plastic Bags in the Blue Cart: Plastic bags should not be placed in the blue recycling cart as they can become entangled with other recyclable materials, rendering them non-recyclable.
  • Use Retailer Drop-Off Kiosks: Many retailers offer recycling drop-off kiosks specifically for plastic bags. This ensures the bags are collected separately and can be properly processed into new products.
  • Choose Reusable Bags: Consider reducing your use of single-use plastic bags by shopping with personal reusable bags.
  • Dispose of Plastic Bags in the Brown Trash Cart: If you cannot recycle plastic bags at a retailer, place them in the brown trash cart.

Why the Change?

When plastic bags are placed together with other recyclables in the blue cart, they can become entangled with those other items, making them difficult to recycle. Additionally, plastic bags and other plastic films can stick to recycling sorting equipment, causing machinery malfunctions and inefficiencies. Plastic bags collected from retailer kiosks do not face these issues since they are kept separate from other materials, allowing them to be recycled effectively.

“The decision to stop accepting plastic bags in the blue recycling cart is not unique to San Antonio,” SWMD Deputy Director Josephine Valencia said. “Of the nation’s ten other largest cities, none of them are accepting plastic bags in the blue cart. San Antonio kept them in its program for several years, but operationally it hasn’t worked. The change affects our 370,000 customers, but it is important to note that the city’s private hauling companies that collect from the remaining 2,081,000 population and commercial businesses have never accepted plastic bags in their recycling programs.”

SWMD will be updating all informational materials to reflect these new guidelines, ensuring that residents are informed and can easily comply with the new rules. For more information, please visit

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