Dear Recycle Lady: Thursday, August 5

Dear Recycle Lady,

What kind of plastic bags recycle? Must paper labels be removed?— New to Plastic Bag Recycling

Dear New to Plastic Bag Recycling,

Low-Density Polyethylene Plastic (LDPE), better known as #4 plastic, can be recycled. LDPE plastic is transparent and is used for items such as shrink wrap, frozen food bags, shopping bags, produce bags, dry cleaning bags, and Ziplock bags. Some recyclable plastic bags have a #4 inside the Recycle symbol stamped on them but none of the above do. According to recycling/plastic, IDPE plastics are recycled into plastic lumber, shipping envelopes, paneling, and furniture, among other items. Before putting your plastic bags in the recycling bin be sure the bag is empty of labels or sales receipts, is clean and dry. Cut off any labels stuck on the plastic. Both Kroger and Walmart accept #4 plastic bags. Do not take these bags to the Recycling Center as they will contaminate an entire load of the other kinds of plastic.

Dear Recycle Lady,

I seem to be getting more and more junk mail these days? Can all of it be recycled with office paper? — Hates Junk Mail

Dear Hates Junk Mail,

Junk mail does seem to be on the increase and most of it goes to the landfill. However, junk mail can be recycled, and it is a source of revenue for the Recycling Center. If they are not made of colored paper, junk mail envelopes and their content can be recycled with office paper. Take all slicks and colored paper return envelopes out of the outer envelopes and place them in the magazine recycle bin. Address labels, plastic membership cards, and dark-colored paper must be removed before the remaining contents of the envelope can be recycled with office paper. The quickest way to remove these items is to slit the top of the envelope open, thumb through the contents and pull out them out. (I highly recommend purchasing a letter opener, if you don’t have one.) Practice makes perfect and you will soon be able to identify and remove these items quickly.

Dear Recycle Lady,

The last time I was at the Recycle Center I noticed a chute made from a large pipe for recycling toothbrushes. What kind of toothbrushes can be recycled? — Surprised

Dear Surprised,

Any kind of non-battery-operated toothbrush can be recycled. Colgate Oral B has partnered with TerraCycle to recycle “all brands of used toothpaste tubes and caps, toothbrushes, toothpaste cartons, toothbrush outer packaging, and floss containers.” According to their information, you don’t need to clean the items, but you should remove as much of the product as possible, for example, remaining toothpaste. Be sure your items are dry. When the Recycling Center has collected a good-size number of oral use items, TerraCycle sends the Center a prepaid shipping label. Upon receipt of the items, TerraCycle cleans and melts them into a hard plastic that is used to make new products.

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 at and Greenworks Recycling at


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