Before you take out the recycling this week, better check there are no plastic egg cartons or take out containers in there.
That’s because Minneapolis is now not accepting two kinds of plastics in its bi-weekly collections: No. 6 plastics and black plastic of any number.
Mailers will start arriving at residents’ homes in the coming weeks explaining the city’s recycling collection rules and an updated accepted materials list.
No. 6 plastics can include rigid and expanded polystyrene (Styrofoam) cups, plates, bowls, and takeout containers, though Minneapolis introduced “Green-To-Go” rules that banned No. 6 plastics being used for takeout or to-go boxes.
But polystyrene also includes clear disposable cups, Solo cold cups, and plastic holders for items like pre-packaged cookies and crackers, and potentially pre-packaged clamshells for bakery items.
The reason these are no longer accepted is because there are “weak and limited markets” for recycled No. 6 plastics, and even though Minneapolis previously accepted them, “they were not likely ever being recycled,” according to the city’s Solid Waste & Recycling Division.
The ban on black plastics – regardless of number – is for more of a practical reason, namely that its black color would absorb the laser lights used by the city’s optical recycling sorter, which made it difficult to identify it for proper sorting.
They would have to be pulled by hand by an employee who woud have to check if it was a No. 1, 5, or 6 plastic, making the process “not economically viable.”
So what do you do with them?
The first suggestion from the City of Minneapolis is not to buy them in the first place, and encourage those using them to switch to recyclable or compostable alternatives.
If that doesn’t work, at the very least the city suggests you should try to reuse them.
After that? The only alternative is to put them in the garbage.
You can find a list of accepted recycling materials for Minneapolis here.