24 Recycling 101… Plastic Bags

Steve Davies

By Steve Davies, Healthy Planet Columnist

So today we’re going to start with the plastic that is without a doubt at the top of many peoples list when it comes to recycling and that is the plastic bag. Those pesky ones that are used at many of our small and major grocery stores, as well as at department stores and even some restaurants.

I think that it would be important to note however, that the vast majority of grocery stores use the same types of bags while the bags used by department stores and restaurants, on the other hand, vary from chain to chain.

Now with that said, it might be best to start off with the grocery stores. In addition to the vast majority of them using number 2 plastic bags, in the last few years we’re starting to also see that some chain grocery stores are beginning to put more of an emphasis on using your own bags, be it one’s that you already own or ones that you can purchase there at the store.

It’s also important to say that in addition to that, most of the major grocery stores these days that do use those plastic bags, also offer you a place to recycle your bags right there in the store so the next time you come in, you can just drop them off. The one thing that I noticed however, is however that the actual bins they use to collect them, don’t actually make mention of the number and to me, that’s a concern.

When I was talking to someone with the East-West Gateway Council of Government a while back, who is part of the recycling process here, told me that “recycler won’t look at the numbers. Just make sure the plastic has a little bit of stretch to it”. That right there is actually a good lead into the bags used by department stores and restaurants.

Unlike the bags at grocery stores however, those at department stores and restaurants vary quite a bit and as I mentioned earlier, some have no numbers at all. To me, the numbers are there so that the customers know what is recyclable and what isn’t. It’s also important on the other end of the recycling process when it comes to sorting them to be recycled.

So, with that said, next month we’ll delve into those other bags and even other plastics like bubble wrap. Safe to say, stay tuned.

For questions about recycling contact me at thprecycler@yahoo.com