Beginning Aug. 1, San Antonio residents who receive solid waste collection from the city will be prohibited from putting plastic bags into the blue recycling cart.

The gist

According to a June 20 news release, officials with the city’s solid waste management department said the city will no longer allow single-use plastic bags inside the provided blue recycling bin to help to address problems caused by processing plastic bags at the city’s mixed recycling system.

The city of San Antonio has accepted plastic bags placed in the blue cart for recycling for the past 10 years.

What you need to know

City representatives said community members should instead insert unwanted plastic bags into designated kiosks at retailer locations such as H-E-B stores. City representatives said this ensures the bags are collected separately and can be properly processed into new products.

City officials also suggested that community members focus more on using personal reusable bags, such as those sold at H-E-B and other retailers, instead of using traditional plastic bags.

Community members who cannot recycle plastic bags at a retailers should instead dispose of the bags in the provided brown garbage bin, city officials said.


City officials said plastic bags placed together with other recyclables inside the blue cart tend to become entangled with those other items, making them difficult to recycle.

Also, plastic bags and other plastic films can stick to recycling sorting equipment, causing machinery malfunctions and inefficiencies, the release stated.

Plastic bags collected from retailer kiosks do not go through these issues because they are kept separate from other materials and are recycled effectively, local officials said.

“The decision to stop accepting plastic bags in the blue recycling cart is not unique to San Antonio,” Josephine Valencia, solid waste management department deputy director, said in a statement.

“Of the nation’s 10 other largest cities, none of them are accepting plastic bags in the blue cart. San Antonio kept them in its program for several years, but operationally it hasn’t worked.”

According to the release, this scheduled change will affect San Antonio's 370,000 solid waste collection customers, but the city’s private hauling companies that collect from the rest of the residential population and commercial businesses have never accepted plastic bags in their recycling programs.