The Essex Windsor Solid Waste Authority has been dealing with up to 20,000 plastic bags and similar items in its recycling plant every day.

As of June 1, the organization will not collect recycling boxes or carts that contain plastic bags, tubes, wrap or packaging — even if they have a recycling symbol on them. 

“We will not be collecting recycle bins that have plastic bags in them. That’s a hard deadline,” said spokesperson Cat Griffin.

“Plastic bags have never really been allowed in our program, but the collectors were a little bit lenient. You know, if a box did have a plastic bag in it, they would get collected.”

This includes plastic shopping bags, plastic used to wrap fruits and vegetables, or plastic packaging that deliveries or toys come in, for example. However, containers such as drink bottles, where the neck is smaller than the base, are acceptable. 

The crackdown comes because buyers of recyclables are demanding a cleaner product, said Griffin.

“People want to do the right thing. We just want to let them know the markets will not accept this anymore,” said Griffin. “We have to stop this at the curb.”

The ban applies to Windsor-Essex County single-family homes, townhouses, condos, apartment buildings, businesses, institutions and industry — anywhere recycling happens.