Bungee Cords, Recycling Bins & Plastic Bag Bans


It Starts with

Bungee Cords


Bart D., in Copper Pond, asked about the cease-and-desist notice he received from Republic Services (aka Rabanco in some parts of town) about the bungee cord Bert used to secure his recycling bin lid. He wondered if this was a new prohibition and if Republic had any bright ideas about how to prevent recycled material being blown over Fidalgo Island from unsecured containers. 

I contacted Janet Pritchard, the Municipal Representative at Republic, who, after a few day’s research, made these observations: 

  • Bungee cords are bad; a driver was almost blinded by the unsecured end of a bungee cord, and Republic will not pick up loads with lids secured by a bungee cord. 
  • Other Republic subsidiaries have had success, in cities south of us, with recycling lids being held in place with twine (secured from the metal rods in the back and front of the bin).  However, that is not an option for our local Republic/Rabanco affiliate, which uses automated pick up machinery. 
  • Our affilitate reports that all the lids on the recycling bins in Anacortes all fasten securely, so even if they blow over, the stuff inside will remain inside. 

I responded that I have yet to see a secure lid on any recycling bin in Anacortes…which led to what might be a solution for both for recycling bins as well as plastic bags. 


Plastic Bags 


Plastic Bags


Ms Pritchard stated that one solution to securing recycled material is to put all the material in a clear large plastic bag (or two).  Not black; not green; but clear. 

These plastic bags, she noted, are easy to separate out before everything else goes through the recycling plant, and they resell the bags to the makers of synthetic decks and Polartec® fleece. 

At the same time, she stated that we can recycle plastic shopping/newspaper bags if we stuff the loose bags in a plastic shopping bag, enough so that it bulks up large enough to be spotted by the workers who separate plastic bags out before the rest of the material goes through the recycling processor. 

All these plastic bags have a market for Republic.  

For that reason, you’ll now find plastic bags included as recyclable material in their Informational Flyer, located on the city’s website at: 




for a Proposed Ban

on Single-Use Plastic Bags


Some implications and considerations: 

  • If Republic welcomes and resells plastic bags, perhaps we should emphasize recycling single-use plastic bags and be less concerned about instituting a ban on these bags. 
  • How large a percentage of plastic bags received by Republic are actually recycled? 
  • Using 39-gal clear plastic bags as a defense against blown over/open bins, would cost $25 for a year’s supply of bags.  $2/month is not a big deal for some, but may be for others?

:© Eric Johnson 2012