In the city of Santa Barbara, as well as all jurisdictions across Santa Barbara County, plastic bags and film plastics are not recyclable. Please do not place these items in your blue recycling container at home or at work.

Here are examples of film plastics that should be placed in the trash: plastic bags, plastic wrap, pallet wrap, Saran wrap, plastic zipper food pouches, bubble wrap, peal-away seals on food containers, chip bags, snack wrappers, and any other type of flexible plastic wrapping.

For some five years, there have been no markets for plastic bags or film plastics mixed in with commingled recyclables. Although some large supermarkets can take back the thicker reusable plastic bags they give out, they are limited by what they can recycle by a lack of a market for other types of film plastic.

Plastic bags in blue recycling containers are also problematic because they get tangled up with other materials. Plastic bags are inherently difficult to keep free of contaminants and hard to pull out of the recycling without snagging something else along with them.

It is because of these properties that plastic bags are the biggest cause of contaminants in local commingled recycling.

The city and county are working together to urge the public to bring reusable bags to the store and use durable containers when possible to reduce the amount of waste the community produces.

For more information on reducing, reusing and recycling waste, visit

— Bryan Latchford for city of Santa Barbara.