Why can't I recycle Styrofoam, plastic bags, etc.?

Typically items are not accepted for recycling for a variety of reasons including low market values, logistical concerns, processing issues, or the nature of the raw materials used to make the product. 

Styrofoam, while it may contain a recycling symbol, requires expensive specialized equipment to prepare into a marketable product. It is often too lightweight to justify the cost to transport, let alone the cost to prepare. Very few municipalities accept Styrofoam for recycling, and it is universally considered unacceptable in curbside collection programs nationwide.  

Plastic bags, though they almost always have a recycling symbol, clog the machinery used to sort and separate recyclables at local processors. They are known as "tanglers" and can cause time-consuming and costly equipment malfunctions if they become entangled in sorting equipment. Oftentimes, however, local grocery stores do have a separate bin available for plastic bags and plastic film recycling. These bags are not sent through the same sorting equipment, and are accepted by recyclers in bulk, therefore can be processed. While we strongly encourage residents to reduce waste by using reusable bags for groceries, if you choose plastic grocery bags, please return them to grocery stores for recycling. More information can be found here

Batteries, especially lithium and lithium ion batteries, and fluorescent tubes are unable to be recycled in traditional programs due to safety hazards. There are multiple recycling options for these types of products locally, including the Spartanburg Annual Household Hazardous Waste Collection Event, and private programs, such as the battery recycling program at Best Buy, Lowe's, Home Depot, Batteries Plus, or Cleanlites Recycling. 

We encourage you to contact Solid Waste Coordinator, Tim Atkins, if you have questions about hard to manage items: tatkins@cityofspartanburg.org or 864-596-2932. You may also contact Spartanburg County's Solid Waste Department about materials that the City cannot accept for recycling in your roll cart, such as motor oil, cooking oil, lead acid batteries, electronics, tires, and antifreeze at 864-949-0211. 

Show All Answers

1. What do you accept for recycling in the blue roll carts?
2. Why is the city no longer accepting glass?
3. Is this glass situation unique to Spartanburg?
4. Can I take my glass to the County's recycling centers?
5. How do I dispose of paint, fluorescent tubes/bulbs, batteries, hazardous materials, medications, or syringes?
6. How do I recycle an item that isn't listed on your website?
7. Why can't I recycle Styrofoam, plastic bags, etc.?
8. How do I recycle electronics, what is "e-waste," where do I recycled electronics?
9. How do I recycle tires?
10. I heard someone goes through all the trash, so there's no point in separating it into different roll carts. Is that true?
11. Do my recyclables actually get recycled, or does it all get thrown away?