Orange bags

A stack of compressed orange bag recycling material stands ready for transport at Western Recycling’s processing facility in Boise in this file photo from Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018.

Forty tons of plastic collected by residents of the Treasure Valley in special orange bags has sat in storage since March, reports Margaret Carmel, our Idaho Press Boise city hall reporter. All of the plastic collected under Boise, Meridian, Garden City and Eagle’s Hefty EnergyBag program, an initiative to take hard-to-recycle plastics and send them to Salt Lake City to be turned into diesel fuel, has been stalled in Boise for months.

Boise Public Works spokesman Colin Hickman said this is due to upgrades being completed at recycling company Renewology in Utah, which necessitates the city holding onto the material until the project is complete in January.

The majority of the plastics being recycled through the EnergyBag program are lightweight materials like wraps and films, which Hickman said can be difficult to grind down to be processed. Because of this, Renewology needs to upgrade the machinery it uses to turn the material into small enough pieces to be recycled.

Boise first launched the EnergyBag program in 2018 with the help of a $50,000 grant from Dow Packaging and Specialty Plastic and Keep America Beautiful after China severely curbed the kinds of plastics it would accept in December 2017. China’s new regulations no longer accept 24 types of solid waste, including a variety of plastics from everyday products. Now, to recycle plastics number 4 through 7, residents must separate them in the special orange bags and place them in their recycle bins. You can read Carmel's full report here at (subscription required), or pick up today's Idaho Press; it's on the front page.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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