Muncie’s Jack’s Camera Shop uses plastic bottles every day. Its photo lab requires bottles full of the necessary chemicals to develop pictures. Besides that, the shop generates metal and paper waste with its products.

However, all those materials get recycled with Muncie’s Blue Bag System, said Greg Harty, Jack’s Camera Shop lab manager.

This year, the Blue Bag System celebrates 20 years, said Jason Donati, Muncie Sanitary District recycling educator.

The shop has used the system for as long as Harty can remember. 

“It’s the option that we have available in Muncie,” Harty said. “We are doing what’s necessary to keep products out of a landfill.”

The Blue Bag System allows local residents or organizations to put their recycling in a blue bag, then put that bag in their trash toter to be recycled, Donati said.

The system was established because it’s easy and convenient, Donati said. Locals only need a different bag to recycle, not a different toter.

“We believe that the way we are doing it now is saving taxpayers money,” Donati said. “This program is basically offered for free to residents.”

Locals or businesses like Jack’s get the blue bags through coupons, Donati siad. An individual requests a coupon from Muncie Sanitary District or asks to be put on the district’s mailing list.

Once an individual receives a coupon, they can redeem it at locations in the town including local nonprofits, pharmacies or the Muncie Public Library. 

Over 21,000 people are on the coupon mailing list, Donati said. 

“I’ve always been under the impression that we have one of the highest participation rates in the state when I talk to other communties,” Donati said. “Our success rate is based on making it as convenient as possible.”

The blue bags are an easy way for Two Cat’s Cafe to reduce its environmental footprint, said kitchen manager Clayre Jones. 

“Restaurants do create a lot of waste,”  Jones said. “Using that blue bag system I think really helps us cut down on it.”

Additionally, White Rabbit Used Books uses the system to cut back on paper waste, said employee Rhonda Clevenger-Gibbons. 

She said the store has used the system for the majority of the time it’s been in Muncie to help the environment.

However, residents living in apartments cannot use the Blue Bag System to recycle.

Residents can drop off  recyclables off at East Central Recycling at 701 E. Centennial Ave. The office is open Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday 8-11:30 a.m.

Blue bags are not required when recycling at East Central Recycling.

Contact Liz Rieth with comments at ejrieth@bsu.edu or on Twitter @liz_rieth.