[GRRN] Paper v. Plastic

Lacaze, Skip (Skip.Lacaze@ci.sj.ca.us)
Tue, 30 Mar 1999 10:07:00 -0800

On Mon, 29 Mar 1999 14:43:15 -0600
Bill Carter <WCARTER@tnrcc.state.tx.us> said:

>1. Recycling is not a "moot" issue. Many communities accept paper
>grocery bags along with newspapers and/or other household paper for
>recycling. None accept plastic grocery bags to my knowledge.

The City of San Jose's includes plastic film in its Recycle Plus residential

recycling program, for both single-family and multi-family residences.
We also accept textiles, so worn out cloth bags could find a home, too.
I suspect that a larger portion of the textiles actually make it back into
finished products than is the case for film plastics. All of the kraft bags
recycled, unless they are heavily contaminated.

>Paper grocery bags are perfectly suited for recycling together with OCC.
> Almost all supermarkets recycle their OCC.

It has always seemed to me that it would be reasonable to require markets
that are large enough to have a cardboard baler to accept OCC and other
mixed paper from their customers.

>2. Composting.... Communities with composting collection of yard
>trimmings and/or other materials can readily accept and accommodate
>paper bags in the mix.

One problem with including paper bags in residential composting
programs here would be that much of the yard trimmings is not composted
but just shredded and used as mulch, both for landscaping and on farms.
We pick up yard trimmings that are pile loose in the street, so we don't
have bags.
Farmers have resisted using material that looks like litter or garbage, even
it was benign or beneficial. Only programs that fully compost all incoming
material could accept large quantities of paper bags.

>3. Litter. A paper bag can cause very little harm as litter in the short
>before it decomposes into humus. Plastic bags are evident everywhere,

The Litter Lobby will always try to move the discussion away from the
visual blight and wildlife deaths caused by their products. It is important
solid waste and recycling staff to remember why bottle bills and curbside
programs were first started--it was not originally due to landfill "crises."