Recycle It Right: Plastic Bags And Beyond


Rhode Island practices mixed recycling. But what exactly does that mean? What can be recycled in curbside bins? Are plastic bags recyclable?

The Rhode Island Resource Recovery mixed recycling accepts paper, metal, glass, and plastic all in the same bin. Recyclables should always be loose in the bin, never bagged. Within each category, only certain items can be accepted.

Metal: Accepted

Containers should be empty and rinsed out if possible. Other types of metal, such as frying pans or metal hangers, will not be accepted.

Paper: Accepted

Shredded paper, napkins, paper towels, and tissues cannot be recycled and should be disposed of in the trash. Other fiber products such as wood and fabric also cannot be recycled, even though they are made from natural fibers.

When recycling paper and cardboard, make sure they are mostly clean and dry and flattened. Pizza boxes can be recycled as long as they are not too greasy. Whenever possible, rinse out cartons, and replace the cap for recycling.

Glass: Accepted

Other items such as drinking glasses cannot be recycled in a bin or cart. Glass items that are not broken and still usable can be donated to a local consignment shop or charity.

Plastic: Accepted

Milk jugs, food containers, water bottles, cold drink cups, shampoo bottles, and other containers are the only type of plastic that can be recycled in a bin or cart. Other plastic items such as hangers and toys cannot be recycled.

NOT Recyclable In Bins

  • Textiles
  • Wood
  • Plastic bags
  • Foam containers
  • Styrofoam
  • Plastic containers that held anything flammable or oily chemicals (i.e. pesticides, motor oil, gasoline, antifreeze, etc.)

If you have a question about a specific product, RIRRC encourages using their online search tool.

Plastic Bags

Coventry Public Works Department reported last week that the town was force to pay over $700 in fines due to rejected recycle loads contaminated with plastic bags.

Plastic bags are not recyclable in curbside bins as part of the mixed recycling program. Instead, all clean, dry plastic bags should be kept separately and recycled in special bins placed outside retailers across the state. Any time of film that can be stretched, including bags for foods such as bread and potatoes, can be recycled in this way. According to the RIRRC, the following retailers currently provide resources for plastic bag recycling in Rhode Island:

  • ALDI Marketplace
  • Burlington Coat Factory
  • CVS Pharmacy
  • Dave’s Marketplace
  • Flexible Film Recycling Group
  • Home Goods
  • Kohl’s
  • Lowe’s Home Improvement Stores
  • Marshalls
  • Ocean State Job Lot
  • Price Rite Marketplace
  • Rite Aid Pharmacy
  • Shaw’s Supermarket
  • Stop & Shop
  • Target
  • Walgreens Pharmacy
  • Walmart
  • Waste Management
  • Whole Foods Market
  • Johnston – RI Resource Recovery (Drop-off ONLY)


While fabric cannot be recycled in curbside bins, there are several options to keep clothing and textiles out of the landfill.

Clean, wearable clothes can be donated to organizations across the state, as well as roadside bins for various charities. Older clothing can also often be donated to local youth theater programs at community centers or schools.

Worn out clothing and other fabrics such as towels and sheets can be responsibly disposed of in several ways. Clothing store H&M accept textiles in their stores, and will give customers a coupon for 10 percent off with every donation.

Several towns offer resources for textile donation as well:

Other statewide clothing and textile donation centers include:

  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ocean State
  • Charitable Organizations
  • Charity Services
  • Craigslist
  • Goodwill Industries of RI
  • Planet Aid
  • Savers
  • Society of St. Vincent dePaul
  • The Salvation Army


Rhode Island state law forbids electronics such as televisions and computers from being disposed of in landfills.

Certain electronics can be recycled for free, including monitors, computer towers, laptops, televisions and tablets. Other items, known as peripherals, are not accepted. These include items such as keyboards, computer mice, and printers.

Electronic waste is accepted at the following locations:

  • Providence County: Resource Recovery, 65 Shun Pike, Johnston RI; M-F, 6 AM – 3:45 PM and Sat. 6 AM – 12 PM; 401-942-1430
  • Bristol County: Recycling Center, 84 Upland Way, Barrington; Mon., Tues., Fri., Sat. 8 AM – 4 PM, and Sun. 8 AM – 12 PM; 401-247-1907
  • Kent County: Transfer Station, Rear of 1670 Flat River Rd. (via the access road leading to the dog pound), Coventry; M-F, 7:30 AM – 12 PM and 12:30 PM – 3:00 PM; 401-822-9110
  • Newport County: Transfer Station, 122 Amy Hart Path, Little Compton. Mon. 10 AM – 6 PM; Tues, Thurs, Fri, Sat, 8 AM – 4 PM; 401-635-4400
  • Washington County: DPW Maintenance Facility, 260 Westmoreland Street, Narragansett; M-F, 7:30 AM – 3:30 PM; 401-782-0687

IndieCycle will also host free events for e-waste recycling. A full list of upcoming events is available on RIRRC’s website.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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