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Dear Recycle Lady




Dear Recycle Lady,

What exactly is plastic film and what kinds of plastic film recycle? — New Recycler

Dear New Recycler,

Plastic film is a soft flexible sheet of plastic film made from polyethylene (PE) resin. A resin code classifies the film according to the density of the polyethylene. Plastic films and wraps for packaging are generally #2 and #4 PE plastic film. Grocery bags are #2 HDPE or High Density Polyethylene.

They are recyclable although they are not marked with a recycle triangle. Film wraps are #4 MDPE or Medium Density Polyethylene. Film wraps are used for packaging several like items together, such as paper plates, napkins, or paper towels. These wraps generally have a #4 in the recycle symbol.

A third type of polyethylene is a low-density polyethylene that generally is not marked. Dry cleaning bags and newspaper bags come in this category. All the items mentioned above are recyclable, if the items are clean and dry, and all receipts are removed (see photo).

Recyclable plastic film is used to make composite lumber for decks, benches, and playground sets. It can also be reprocessed into small pellets, which can be made into new bags, pallets, containers, crates and pipe. Not all plastic bags are recyclable. This includes pre-washed salad mix bags, frozen food bags, candy bar wrappers, chip bags and six-pack rings. If in doubt about the plastic film being recyclable, throw it out. It only takes one or two to contaminate a bale of plastic film. Plastic film and wrap can be recycled at Kroger, Walmart, and Lowes. The Recycling Center does not recycle plastic films.

Dear Recycle Lady,

My favorite tea kettle is no longer usable because the handle is too loose. The kettle is made of stainless steel. Can it be recycled with steel cans? — Tea Drinker

Dear Tea Drinker,

Yes, your stainless-steel tea kettle can be recycled, but not with steel cans. When you go to the Recycle Center take your kettle in the door marked for aluminum can purchasing and push the call button. Someone will come to help you and take your kettle to the box of steel items.

Dear Recycle Lady,

I have several cans of paint in my basement left over from a renovation. Some of the cans are nearly empty, others are about half full. Can these cans of paint be put in the trash? Painter

Dear Painter,

Thanks for asking about safe disposal of your paint cans. According to, paint cans often have highly hazardous components that must be disposed of properly for the safety of the general public and the environment. Oil paints are flammable and can be more hazardous than latex water-based paints. Fortunately, most of the latex and oil-base house paints do not contain very hazardous materials and can be disposed of safely. If the paint cans are completely empty, remove the lids and place them in the trash. If your cans contain only a small amount of water-based latex paint, you should open the lid of the can and let the paint dry completely in a well-ventilated area. This may take from a few hours, depending on the amount of point and the paint itself. When dry, these cans can be put in the trash, with the lid removed. If your paint cans have a large amount of leftover paint, there are several alternatives to preparing them for safe disposal. Inexpensive commercial paint hardening products are available, or you can add kitty litter, sawdust, cement or sand to the paint. Mix it until the paint is solidified and not spillable. They can now be disposed of safely. The lids of these paint cans should be left on.

Have questions about recycling, or interesting information about recycling? Send questions or requests to Dear Recycle Lady is sponsored jointly by the Greenbrier Recycling Center and Greenworks Recycling.

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