We hear a lot from environmentalists about the problems associated with single use plastic bags, to the extent that several cities, especially on the West Coast have banned them.
As a plastics guy, I see bans as an extremely short-sighted view … much better to recycle, which provides the convenience together with reducing the environmental footprint. However since MRF's can't handle plastic bags, how do you recycle? The answer is through retailer programs like many large grocery stores run.
Most people don't realize that virtually any plastic film can be recycled through these programs, as long as it is polyethylene, so as well as plastic bags things like dry cleaner bags, newspaper bags and bubble wrap can be handled. Since the retailer can get 15 to 25 cents per pound for clean dry PE material, it is a revenue stream for them.
The American Chemistry Council has a program Wrap Recycling Action Program (WRAP) to support cooperation between local authorities and retailers to promote this important recycle stream. Currently only about 17 percent of this material is recycled.
Plastics News devotes column inches to plastic bag bans, how about promoting positive steps to recycle by highlighting this WRAP program? I would have thought the initiative should have been led by the plastics industry rather that the American Chemistry Council!
Director, Expense Reduction Analysts