Plastic bags are everywhere. Although often quoted as consuming oil resources, most plastic bags are actually made from natural gas. The bad news is most plastic bags are not recycled. Part of the reason is because many local recycling agencies do not accept plastic bags. They are lightweight, fly out of the backs of recycling trucks, and become litter. They also jam up the recycling machines and cause expensive repairs. The good news is that most plastic bags are recyclable. Stores such as Ukrops, Walmart, Food Lion, Kroger and Whole Foods all accept plastic bags for recycling.
Although the United States Environmental Protection Agency stated in 2000 that only 1% of plastic bags were recycled, significant attention resulted in a 700% growth in the recycling industry as new capacity led to a 7% rate.
When most people think of plastic bags, the first thing they think of are plastic grocery bags. But did you know that many other types of plastic bags can be recycled along with your plastic grocery bags as well? All of the following can be recycled right along with your plastic grocery bags.
• newspaper bags
• dry cleaning bags
• bread bags
• produce bags
• toilet paper, napkin, and paper towel wraps
• furniture wrap
• electronic wrap
• plastic retail bags (hard plastic and string handles removed)
• grocery bag
• zip lock bags (remove hard components)
• plastic cereal box liners (if it tears like paper do not include)
• Tyvek (no glue, labels, other material)
• diaper wrap (packaging)
• plastic shipping envelopes (no bubble wrap/remove labels)
• case wrap (e.g., snacks, water bottles)
• All clean, dry bags labeled #2 or #4.
There are some types of plastic bags that should NOT be included. The following are considered contaminants and could jeopardize recycling programs:
NO food or cling wrap
NO prepackaged food bags including frozen food bags (e.g., prewashed salad bags)
NO film that has been painted or has excessive glue
NO other bags or films
NO bio-based or compostable plastic bags
So when going to the grocery store, it’s preferred that you use reusable grocery bags. But a certain amount of plastic bags is unavoidable. So let’s make sure to recycle all we can.