Recycle it: plastic bags and so much more

by Karen Roche October 03, 2017

Recycle it:  plastic bags and so much more

I have to admit a major fact.  I know that plastic bags are recyclable but I've never recycled them.  I do reuse them to line small trash cans or carry things but mainly I shove them in my pantry closet.   I always take my reusable bags to the grocery store and Target and I always refuse an extra bag at CVS.  Why do they need to put a prescription in a plastic bag when it's already in a paper one?  I always refuse a bag (paper or plastic) for 1 or 2 items.  I mean, my hands are quite capable of carrying a few items.  I don't think to take my small reusable bag to the mall though- guilty there.  And then there's all the plastic that comes with internet orders and that some of our Be Green supplies are wrapped in when we receive them.  All that plastic!   No one else living in my house uses recyclable bags.  You should see that pantry closet.   I must have 40-50 plastic bags shoved in there.

When I got some new organic towels from the internet (check out bambeco.com- love all their stuff!) each one was individually wrapped in plastic.  I mean how can you buy organic towels shipped Carbonfree® and just ditch the plastic?  This got me thinking.  I really need to spend some time learning about plastic bag recycling.

You may have noticed bins at your supermarket or Target store for plastic bag recycling.  Plastic bags are made out of “film,” or thin flexible sheets of plastic. Plastic film is typically defined as any plastic less than 10 mil thick. The majority of plastic films are made from polyethylene resin and are readily recyclable if the material is clean and dry.  What I learned in my research is that so much more plastic can be recycled in these bins. 

Examples include:

  • Retail, carryout, produce, newspaper, bread, and dry cleaning bags (clean, dry and free of receipts and clothes hangers)  This includes bags from bagels, loaves of bread, rolls and english muffins.
  • Zip-top food storage bags (clean and dry)
  • Plastic shipping envelopes (remove labels), bubble wrap and air pillows (deflate)
  • Product wrap on cases of water/soda bottles, paper towels, napkins, disposable cups, bathroom tissue, diapers, and female sanitary products
  • Furniture and electronic wrap
  • Plastic cereal box liners (but if it tears like paper, do not include)
  • All clean, dry bags labeled #2 or #4
  • Any film packaging or bag that has the How2Recycle Label shown below.

Some things that you can unfortunately not include are:

  • Degradable/compostable bags or film packaging
  • Pre-washed salad mix bags
  • Frozen food bags
  • Candy bar wrappers
  • Chip bags
  • Six-pack rings
  • Food or cling wrap like Saran wrap.

In my quest to recycle all my plastic film, I came across the the plastic wrap around a ream of copy paper the other day.  I was baffled by this one so I called the Georgia Pacific 1-800 number listed on the package.  Turns out it is a #5 plastic.  That led to a 1-800 call to my trash provider, Waste Management.  Turns out that this particular wrapper is recyclable in my regular recycling bin.  I'm on  a mission now!  Recycle, recycle, recycle.  My pantry closet is cleaner....I transferred all the recyclable film and bags to my coat closet.  Now if I can only remember to take them with me to Target next time!

For more information on plastic in the environment, check out these short films:

A Plastic Tide

Bag it

and to find a plastic film recycling bin near you, visit plasticreyclingflim.org.

As a special thank you for reading this article and learning about plastic film recycling, please use coupon code "recycle" from 10/3/17 through 10/21/17 to receive 10% off your order.  Thanks for doing your part!

 





Karen Roche
Karen Roche

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