Boise recyclers, don't worry if you haven't received your orange bags yet. They're coming.

Boise family previews new 'orange bag' recycling program

A Boise family tried out the Hefty EnergyBag recycling initiative that the city has adopted. Here's what they thought.
Up Next
A Boise family tried out the Hefty EnergyBag recycling initiative that the city has adopted. Here's what they thought.

About half of Boise homes have received the orange bags for the city's new plastics recovery program, said Colin Hickman, a Boise Public Works spokesman.

The rest should be delivered in the next two weeks or so, Hickman said. Deliveries started April 19 in the neighborhoods on the city's east side, he said, and generally have been working westward. As of Friday, they had progressed to the area around Cole Road, Hickman said.

So far, the city is happy with the amount of plastic materials residents are putting in the bags, he said.

Boise unveiled the orange bag program in January after China announced that it would no longer allow the import of thin, low-grade plastics that companies there had taken from recycling cities in the United States. Residents can now deposit those plastics, such as shopping bags, bread bags, bubble wrap and candy wrappers, in the orange bags and put them in their blue recycling carts.

Trucks that empty the carts deliver the bags to a sorting plant run by Western Recycling in Boise. Workers separate the orange bags from the rest of the recycling stream. The bags and their contents are smashed into bales to be delivered by truck to Salt Lake City, where a company called Renewlogy will turn them into diesel fuel.

About 70 cubic yards of smashed plastics have been collected so far, Hickman said. That's about 2,500 bags and more than a ton and a half of plastics.

For every ton of plastic in the orange bags, Renewlogy can make about six barrels, or 252 gallons, of diesel, Hickman said. Each truck shipment will have 20 to 22 bales, each 36 cubic yards and weighing about 1,800 pounds. A shipment is good for more than 5,000 gallons of fuel.

Hickman said the city doesn't know yet if people aredoing a good enough job selecting and cleaning the plastics they put in the bags. The city is hiring a consultant this month to evaluate the bags' contents, he said.


Beginning in mid-April, Boise will phase in a program to send unrecyclable plastics in orange bags to Salt Lake City, where Renewlogy will turn them into diesel. Plastic water bottles and clamshell containers will be trash.

Here are the plastic items Boiseans should throw in the trash:

All plastic water bottles, no matter what number is stamped in the triangular recycling symbol.

All hinged-lid plastic “clamshell” containers for to-go food, fruit and vegetables

All wax-coated containers: to-go cups, frozen dinner trays, dairy containers, juice cartons

Here’s what goes straight into the blue recycling cart, loose and unbagged:

Plastics: Only soda bottles, juice bottles, detergent jugs, milk jugs

Metal: Aluminum and steel cans, foil

Paper: Magazines, newspaper, office paper, mail

Cardboard: flattened boxes

Here’s what to put, clean and dry, into the orange bags:

All plastic bags for bread, chips, snacks, fruits, vegetables, salads, pet food, pet treats, groceries

Plastic tubs and lids for dairy items such as yogurt, butter and sour cream

Squeezable plastic juice pouches

Plastic single-serving snack packages for pudding, etc.

Plastic dinnerware: Straws, utensils, cups, plates, etc.

Foam products: egg cartons, cups, plates, bowls, meat trays

Packaging: plastic food wrap, meat and cheese packaging, candy wrappers, food storage bags, plastic bottle caps

Packing and shipping materials: plastic bubble wrap, air packs and pillows, shrink wrap, plastic envelopes

Bathroom items: empty toothpaste tubes, empty deodorant sticks, plastic tubes for lotions and creams