HARTSVILLE, S.C. - More than 14 million pounds of plastic grocery bags were recycled last year, according to figures from a major bag maker. Sonoco Products Co. of Hartsville announced that shoppers returned 14.4 million pounds of bags to 8,000 collection sites maintained by Sonoco at supermarkets across the country in 1994.
That figure was 2.4 million pounds higher than in 1993, and more than 9 million pounds greater than 1992, according to the Sonoco figures. Sonoco claims to operate about 8,000 of the estimated 14,000 bag recycling operations in the country.
Sonoco said 23 percent of the collected bags were recycled into other grocery bags, while the other 77 percent was transferred to processors for use in plastic lumber, irrigation pipe and other products.
Robert Householder, environmental marketing manager for the company, said the level of contamination in the returned bags dropped 10 percent from last year, which he attributed to greater consumer knowledge of recycling and reuse.
Contaminants included paper sales receipts, coins, staples and incompatible types of plastic, such as shrink wrap.
The centers only accept high and low density polyethylene bags, and consumers are advised to turn the bags inside out to clear any contaminants.