Gwinnett County is joining a program that will give residents a way to get rid of hard-to-recycle plastic items.

The county announced on Friday that it will begin participating in the Hefty EnergyBag program starting Oct. 15. The program will give residents an opportunity to set aside items such as plastic dinnerware, foam products, plastic bags and plastic packaging and wraps in what county officials are calling a “sustainable way.”

“The Hefty® EnergyBag program takes an important step toward a more circular plastics economy and a more sustainable future,” Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful Executive Director Schelly Marlatt said. “We’re grateful for this chance to reduce the amount of plastics and foam products in our landfills, giving them a new life as they are repurposed into energy resources and other materials.”

Although the county announced it will participate in the program, disposing of items in the EnergyBags will not be as simple as just putting the bags out with other trash at the curb. Residents will have to take an extra step if they want to use the bags by taking them to WestRock, which is located at 384 Maltbie St. in Lawrenceville between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Mondays through Saturdays.

WestRock will only accept the Hefty EnergyBags, and not regular trash bags.

The EnergyBags are identifiable by their orange color. They can be purchased at Kroger stores or on Hefty’s website. Items placed in the bags must have been cleaned and dried beforehand so there is no food particles or liquids on the items when they are dropped off, according to county officials.

A full list of items that can be put in the EnergyBags can be found on or

Some of the items include: see-through chip bags; snack food bags; plastic pet food bags; salad bags; cheese stick packages; pudding cups; yogurt tubs; butter or margarine tubs; sour cream tubs; plastic air pillow packs; bubble wrap; plastic grocery bags; foam cups, plates, bowls, to-go boxes and egg cartons; and plastic dinnerware, such as utensils, cups and plates.

Other items — such as water and soda bottles, milk jugs, juice containers, shampoo bottles and detergent holders — should continue to be put out with curbside trash and recycling and not included in the Hefty EnergyBags, according to county officials.

“The program helps to divert hard-to-recycle plastics from landfills, reduce dependence on fossil fuels, increase efficiency at recycling facilities and improve the quality of other recycled materials,” county officials said in a statement.

I'm a Crawford Long baby who grew up in Marietta and eventually wandered to the University of Southern Mississippi for college. Earned a BA in journalism (double minor in political science and history). Previously worked in Florida and Clayton County.

(1) comment


Unfortunately, thoroughly washing all of these items to make them recyclable consumes a lot of water. While the Department of Water Resources might appreciate the increase in revenue from all of the water usage, I imagine that they would prefer that people conserve water. Water is also a precious resource--and when we get into one of our periodic droughts, it is especially critical to conserve it.

It is a delicate balancing act to determine how to best reduce plastic consumption and increase recycling, but at the same time to conserve precious water resources.

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