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Re: [GreenYes] Grocery Bags
"Curious, does anyone know what actually happens to the plastic bag 
collections that grocery stores have?"

About 5 years ago, I received a call from someone in the community where I work asking the same question.  I applied some due diligence before answering the question by calling each of the five largest grocers in the area - Kroger (no longer in the area), Harris Teeter, Food Lion, Lowe's Foods and Bi-Lo.  I asked the manager at each of the stores to explain their plastic bag recycling process to me.  Only one store manager was able to explain the process in such a way as to make me confident that they were actually recycling the bags.  He explained how they were actually backhauled to the distribution center and ultimately sent to a Sonoco bag plant in South Carolina.  While I can't say that the other stores were NOT recycling their bags, I could assure the lady who asked the question that they were only collecting them.  One store manager actually admitted that they were putting the collected plastic bags in the garbage dumpster at the store.

B. Wayne Turner
City of Winston-Salem
Utilities Division
phone: (336) 727 8418

>>> "sue williams" <> 09/30/02 03:25PM >>>

regarding::: Jeff Elder Wrote: 

>"Curious, does anyone know what actually happens to the plastic bag 

>collections that grocery stores have?" .............The plastic bags recycled at the stores I work for are used by Boise Cascade to make a wood/polymer lumber material (50% plastic film and 50% recycled wood). Sue Williams

>From: Bob and Camille Armantrout 
>Reply-To: Bob and Camille Armantrout 
>To: GreenYes 
>Subject: [GreenYes] Grocery Bags 
>Date: Fri, 27 Sep 2002 11:20:04 -0700 (PDT) 
>Jeff Elder Wrote: 
>"Curious, does anyone know what actually happens to the plastic bag 
>collections that grocery stores have?" 
>On Maui, we there is a collection box for bags inside Wal-Mart. 
>However, since Maui Recycling Service has the contract for picking up 
>the recovered bags in the dumpster out back, I can say that those bags 
>never make it to the dumpster. It is always empty despite repeated 
>calls to Wal-Mart. 
>Further, should the bags eventually make it to the processor; they will 
>ultimately end up in the landfill. The local plastic processor sorts 
>out plastic bottles (beverages, milk jugs and laundry bottles) for 
>baling and landfills the rest. Therefore, no recycled grocery bags on 
>Maui actually get recycled. 
>In other words, our local Wal-Mart's plastic grocery bag recovery 
>program is a farce and unfortunately, we are part of it. Can you say 
>"green washing?" 
>Camille Armantrout - Maui Recycling Service 
>Roger M. Guttentag Wrote: 
>"As a final comment, the environmentally superior solution would a 
>reusable shopping bag. One idea that I have, which I have not seen 
>implemented (though I would be interested in knowing if it has been 
>done) would be for the store to develop a branded shopping bag (one 
>with its name and logo) that it could sell but then give a small rebate 
>to the consumer each time it was used. Perhaps a barcode could be 
>attached to the bag so it was scan able for the purpose of both 
>awarding the rebate and tracking customer bag reuse patterns." 
>I agree that reusable shopping bags are the solution. However, I don't 
>think they should not have a store logo on them. Most people shop at 
>more than one store and would feel self-conscious about bringing a 
>Safeway bag into Wal-Mart, for instance. 
>We bought all purpose (washable) cotton bags from 
>and use them in ALL the stores we frequent. We bought the string 
>market bags and the produce bags which we use for bulk food like beans 
>and pasta as well as vegetables. They are washable and attractive. 
>Forgetting to bring them into the store can be a problem, but we are 
>improving with time. If we do forget and aren't buying much, we carry 
>it out in our hands. We reuse the few bags we do end up with for trash 
>and for staging recyclables. 
>I like the idea of charging 5 cents per bag in the store. The store 
>could sell unmarked, reusable bags at the checkout counters. In order 
>for this to work, ALL the stores must do this or else individual stores 
>will waive the bag fee in the name of customer service. That 5 cents 
>would be the most effective motivation for people to change their 
>shopping habits. You have to make it hard to do the wrong thing and 
>easy to do the right thing. 
>Camille Armantrout - Maui Recycling Service 
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