WATERVILLE — City residents are being asked to stop using plastic retail and grocery bags for recyclables that are picked up in curbside bins, a move that the company disposing of the materials says will help its operations.

Ecomaine says it will no longer accept the bags because they clog up the sorting machines at ecomaine’s recycling facility in Portland, forcing workers to stop the process several times a day to unclog them. Also, the market for selling the bags is very weak and ecomaine wants to encourage people to avoid using plastic bags and instead use reusable bags, said Lisa Wolff, ecomaine’s communications manager.

“It’s been that way for quite a long time,” Wolff said Monday of the clogging problem, “but unfortunately, there’s just more and more plastic bag usage and more and more clogging.”

Ecomaine had been accepting the plastic bags with the numbers 2 and 4 on the bottom — primarily grocery and retail plastic bags — but people also were putting wood pellet and feed bags that have those numbers on them into their recyclables and such bags are not recoverable, Wolff said.

Many supermarkets and other stores will accept plastic retail and grocery bags at recycling stations, according to both Wolff and Mark Turner, Waterville public works director. Turner said he recycles all his retail and grocery bags at Hannaford at Elm Plaza, for instance.

A list of stores that accept plastic bags and films is available at plasticfilmrecycling.org, Wolff and Turner said.

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A statement from ecomaine says the decision to stop accepting plastic bags comes on the heels of communities, including Portland, South Portland and Falmouth, instituting fees of 5 cents per plastic grocery bag.

Freeport recently placed a ban on plastic bags in grocery and convenience stores and instituted a 5-cent fee for paper bags, the statement said. “These ordinances aim to reduce waste and incentivize shoppers to opt for reusable bags, thus reducing fossil fuel and natural resource consumption and our overall carbon footprint.”

Turner also urges Waterville residents not to place Styrofoam in their recycling bins, as ecomaine does not accept that material either.

Amy Calder can be contacted at 861-9247 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: AmyCalder177


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