Due to the situation we all find ourselves in because of COVID-19, there have been unintended impacts to the environment. Some are positive, such as improved air quality due to far less air pollution. Some are more negative, such as increased single-use plastic consumption, since bringing reusable grocery or produce bags is no longer allowed in many grocery stores.
So what is one to do with all of those extra plastic bags? The good news is that it is relatively easy to recycle them, along with other forms of plastic film that are often forgotten when considering plastic recycling.
This site for plastic film recycling has all of the details, including:
- What is recyclable (includes picture slide show)
- Where you can recycle the materials
- What happens to the materials
- Opportunities for school collections/competitions
In addition to the competition possibilities listed on the plastic film site, a blog reader recently let me know that another company sponsors competitions, and will make and donate a composite bench out of these materials: https://www.trex.com/recycling/recycling-programs/
While you can see the complete list of what is recyclable at http://plasticfilmrecycling.org , here are some of the everyday items that I never knew could be included:
- All types of plastic bags: grocery bags, newspaper bags, plastic that covers dry-cleaning, bags that hold bread, produce bags (clean and dry)
- 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 (a very popular item these days), diapers, and female sanitary products
- Plastic cereal box liners (but if it tears like paper, do not include)
I find that collecting this kind of plastic film adds up quickly. We eat our fair share of cereal, and most packages come with some sort of bubble wrap or air pillows. I usually let it accumulate for a month or two and then bring in several bags of it at once.
Of course, reducing consumption of plastic film by being more mindful while shopping is optimal. But in the cases where plastic bags or film can’t be avoided, taking advantage of recycling these items is an easy and convenient way to redefine trash.
Andy is a longtime member of Beth El’s Social Action Committee. Read more about the challenges and rewards of recycling at his blog Redefining Trash