Why blue bags for recycling?

waste set out to curb with blue recycling bags, yard waste bags, and clear garbage bags with one nontransparent black bag

When the City of St. John’s required clear bags for garbage beginning January 2022, we received many inquiries wondering if see-through blue bags were still required for curbside recycling.

Yes, curbside recycling must be in see-through blue bags; one for paper recyclables and a separate one for container recyclables. Learn the basics of curbside recycling – sort it, bag it, curb it!

Clear bags are for garbage only, not for recycling. Recycling at the curb must be in see-through blue bags.

On recycling days 3 City trucks come by your property:

  1. the garbage truck is looking for clear bags or garbage carts,
  2. the recycling truck is looking for see-through blue bags or bins with a recycling sticker, and
  3. the yard waste truck is looking for paper yard waste bags

Every collection day each garbage and recycling truck collects from 800 or more properties, depending on the route; yard waste trucks collect from twice as many.

On recycling days, with 3 separate trucks visiting each property, it is most efficient to have drivers quickly identify the waste material they are to collect – having different colour or type of bag achieves this.

We want to collect the recycling put at the curb so that it is processed and made into new items. Recycling in colourless clear bags may not be recognized by the recycling collector as they are looking for see-through blue bags. If recyclables are put in colourless clear bags rather than see-through blue, it may be missed as recycling and collected as garbage instead.

To ensure that the recyclables residents take the time to rinse/prepare and bag together are actually recycled, we require that see-through blue bags are used. It is important that the recycling bags are both see-through and blue in colour/tint; recycling collectors need to be able to see through the blue bag to determine if the contents are papers or containers as there are 2 separate compartments in our trucks, one for papers and the other for containers, and they cannot be mixed together.

See-through blue bags are required to hold the recyclable material, and the blue bags themselves are also a recycling product. In our recycling facility, once recyclables are removed from the blue bags the blue bags are baled together and shipped to recycling markets, where they are made into new garbage bags. We have a market to send the see-through blue bags and it is important that this material is consistently blue, not of other bag colours or tints.