Iris Olde Bijvank - May 9 2020
What to do with my plastic grocery bags?
Yes, if you go grocery shopping the ‘American way’ then you end up with lots of thin, mostly torn, plastic bags. The ones that are still intact can be reused, which is great, but what to do with the rest?
Plastic bags can not go into your recycling bin at most locations. There are a few areas that can process plastic bags, you will have to check with your local recycling company if your is one of them.
What to do with plastic bags?
Recycle. Plastic bags can not go into your recycling bin at most locations. There are a few areas that can process plastic bags, you will have to check with your local recycling company if your is one of them.
Check your store
Waste Management says that plastic bags will get tangled in the machines, the workers have to stop the plant and manually remove the bags. Instead of dumping the bags in your regular waste container you can bring them to your local grocery store. Most big stores have a bin where you can drop off your empty and dry plastic bags. You can often put other film plastic in those bins, newspaper, bread and produce bags for example. Not every location takes the same plastics, so check at your store.
How much is recycled? To give you some perspective, according to the EPS (United States Environmental Protection Agency) in 2017 only 9.9% of all plastic bags, sacks and wraps were recycled compared to 29.1 % of all PET bottles and jars. In fact, in the same report it shows that we did better in the previous years with plastic bags, the same percentage of PET bottles are recycled. Although if put in the right local recycling bin the bags can be recycled, it is costly due to collection and sorting. For manufacturers it is often cheaper and easier to make plastic bags from new, virgin plastic. Should you recycle your plastic grocery bags? Yes, recycling is always better than dumping plastic bags in your regular trash bin. What will be a better choice? Refuse plastic (and paper) bags at check-out and use your reusable bags. Make sure you always have bags in the trunk of your car and one foldable in your purse.
Don't put plastic bags in a regular recycling bin
BYOB. Bring Your Own Bag! In The Netherlands, they don't give out plastic or paper grocery bags, people bring their bags from home. You might forget your bags in the beginning, but that’s ok. After a few times, you will get the new routine! Or have them stored in your car. You will be ready for your next shopping trip and tackled the first step to a low-waste lifestyle!