Orange County’s No Plastic Bags in the Cart Campaign Commences

Community & Services

In January 2016, recycling efforts in Orange County made strides when a new collection system was rolled out to more than 200,000 curbside collection customers countywide. Included in this system was the weekly automated collection of a 95-gallon blue lid recycling cart.

The recycling cart replaced the two 18-gallon bins that required recycling to be sorted into one bin for plastic, metal and glass containers and the other for paper and cardboard. The bins were collected manually and any wrong materials were obvious and could be left behind.

Since its launch, Orange County has seen an increase in the volume of material collected, which is great news. However, because it is difficult for the driver to see what is inside the cart, the influx of non-recyclables has dramatically increased.

Among the biggest issues the county is seeing stems from plastic bags. No plastic bags are allowed in the blue lid recycling cart.

Plastic bags get easily tangled in the processing equipment and can shut down the recycling facility. Plastic bags seen in county recycling carts include:

  • Garbage bags – even if good recyclables are inside of the bags, there is no way to tell. Therefore, do not bag recyclables. Leave the items loose in the blue lid recycling cart.
  • Retail store bags – many retailers collect these for recycling, so they should be returned to the store. Or, if reused for garbage, these bags belong in the green lid garbage cart.
  • Other – including dry cleaning bags, food storage bags, newspaper delivery bags, etc. must go in the garbage cart.

No plastic bags of any kind belong in the blue lid recycling cart.

More outreach and education will be provided to residents to help keep bags out of the recycling cart. Please share this with your neighbors!

Some customers may be “wish-cycling” or wishing plastic bags are recyclable because they have a logo on them, but they are not recyclable as part the program for unincorporated Orange County.

Orange County promotes the “Think 5” program as a reminder of what can be recycled: Plastic (#1-#5), metal and glass containers and bottles as well as cardboard and paper are the ONLY five items accepted.

For all other items, “When it doubt, throw it out” is the best way to remember to put those items in the green lid garbage cart. Visit

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