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Christy Abreu and Bryce Howard of Upper Valley Disposal & Recycling at their recycling facility near Whitehall Lane.

No more plastic bags in the blue recycle bins, please.

That’s the message that Upper Valley Disposal & Recycling (UVDS) is sending to its customers as it weathers tumultuous times in the recycling industry.

“We’re trying to clean up the stream,” said Christy Abreu of UVDS.

Plastic bags should go into the brown trash bin. The same goes for produce bags, newspaper bags, sandwich bags, and black or green garbage bags. When collecting recyclables, either use a clear plastic garbage bag – so that UVDS can easily confirm that the contents are recyclable – or no bag at all.

The market for low-grade plastics has evaporated ever since China started imposing new environmental standards and limiting the types of recyclables it will accept.

About 20 percent of what UVDS customers deposit in blue bins is non-recyclable trash that should have gone into a brown bin, a rate that’s consistent with the rest of California. China used to pay for that material on a sliding scale depending on the quality, but it’s now demanding a very stringent 0.5 percent rate of non-recyclables.

UVDS is trying to clean up its recycling stream to meet China’s new standard. Meanwhile, China has also dramatically reduced the price it pays for a form of low-grade plastics that can’t be recycled domestically. UVDS is stockpiling that plastic in hopes that the Chinese market opens up again.

Cutting down on the number of plastic bags in the recycling bins will help UVDS offer a more viable product to China. Napa County’s local jurisdictions have all banned single-use plastic shopping bags.

UVDS will place new stickers on all recycling bins describing the new standards. For more details go to


St. Helena Reporter

Jesse has been a reporter for the St. Helena Star since 2006.