Here's encouraging news for anyone who wants to protect the environment. Plastic bag recycling has increased significantly, and there are easy steps you can take to contribute to this important trend.
Over 800 million pounds of post-consumer plastic bags and film were recovered in 2006 - a 24 percent increase from 2005, according to the National Post-Consumer Recycled Plastic Bags and Film Report.
Plastic bags are an extremely resource-efficient disposable bag choice, requiring about 70 percent less energy and generating 50 percent less greenhouse gas emissions to manufacture than paper bags - and it is easy to recycle them as more and more stores across the country offer recycling programs.
Many grocers and retailers now offer drop-off programs that allow consumers to return their used bags to be recycled. Participating stores typically place plastic bag collection bins at the store entrance or near checkout areas.
Here are a few do's and don'ts on recycling plastic bags:
* Do recycle plastic grocery and retail bags, newspaper bags, dry cleaning bags, plastic wrap from products like paper towels and toilet paper, and all clean bags labeled with recycling code #2 (HDPE) or #4 (LLDPE).
* Do make sure bags are clean and dry.
* Do remember to remove receipts.
* Do store plastic bags safely away from small children.
* Don't recycle food wrap or bags that contain food residue.
* Don't include other types of bags.
The increase in plastic bag recycling is expected to continue, thanks to greater availability of at-store recycling opportunities. Recycling mandates in states such as California and cities such as New York and Chicago will help to fuel continued recycling growth.
Plastic bags can be made into dozens of useful new items, such as building and construction products, low-maintenance decks and fences and, of course, new bags.
Demand for the material is high and in most areas exceeds the available supply because many people are not aware that collection programs are available.
Recycling plastic bags is easier than ever. In addition to at-store drop-off programs, the number of municipal drop-off centers and curbside recycling programs is also increasing.
Please, readers, let's all become part of the solution by participating in recycling.