Re: [GRRN] Plastic shopping bags

Myra Nissen (
Wed, 02 Dec 1998 08:38:47 -0800


My understanding of this situation, in CA anyway, is that 1) it is
difficult to prove that the bags are being recycled at all and not
thrown away; 2) if they do recycle them, it is very costly because of
the time it takes for sorting and processing: Any food debris is a
contaminant. Consumers are not good about removing contaminants before
recycling. Consumers drop off all of their plastic bags, not just the
ones generated from the store offering the program--not all plastic bags
are made out of the same polymer and are not compatible for processing
together. 3) I know that there have been a number of people who have
spotted plastic bags from the store recycling bins in the dumpsters
behind the stores.

But my information is hearsay. I know there are people out there who may
have more direct information for you. The company I work for collects
and market film plastic from post-industrial uses -- we experience the
same sorts of problems with commingling of polymers and contamination.

Myra Nissen
The Sutta Co.
1221 Third St.
Oakland, CA 94607

Jeff Surfus wrote:
> Greenyes readers:
> I know this has been discussed before, but I am writing an article about
> this problem so I need some info if anyone can provide it.
> Recently, the recycling stations here in Southeast Michigan have stopped
> accepting any plastic shopping bags. The grocery stores used to have bins
> where empties could be dropped off for recycling. All of this has stopped.
> When questioned about this, the standard line the grocery stores or
> recycling center operators use is that there is no recycling market for
> these bags anymore.
> My questions are:
> Why has the market dried up (or was there ever a market to begin with)?
> Once again, have we been sold a bill of goods by the plastics industry as to
> the recylability of these bags?
> What can be done with these bags, short of throwing them away, or saving and
> reusing them over and over?
> The bottom line is what can the everyday consumer do with these bags?
> Unless it can be made really easy for consumers to recycle (e.g. a drop off
> bin right inside the grocery store), they are going to throw the bags away.
> Any thoughts or ideas?
> Jeff Surfus
> ***********************************************************************
> To unsubscribe, send a message to
> with the subject unsubscribe. If you should have any problems, please
> write to
> GreenYes is archived on the GrassRoots Recycling Network web site:
> ***********************************************************************