Plastic bags raise questions for the environmentally concerned consumer. First, we are trying to reduce using plastic bags. However, when we don’t have a choice we need to understand the finer points for recycling them. The basic rule is that plastic bags made of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) or 2 plastic or low-density polyethylene (LDPE) or 4 plastic are recyclable when they are empty, clean and dry with all receipts removed. These include the bags shown above, plastic dry cleaning bags with the staples and receipts removed, case wrapping from juice or canned dog food cases, stretch wrap from furniture or electronics and cereal or cracker bags that are opaque, but not silver. These bags are recyclable in grocery or retail stores and here they are made into TREX composite lumber. If put into general recyclables, the bags can damage machinery used to process other recyclables.
Some plastic bags are not recyclable. These include pet food bags, chip bags, prepackaged food or salad bags, garbage bags, saran or cling wrap, other retail bags, cat litter bags, potting soil or mulch bags and other plastic food packaging unless labelled 2 or 4. Cling wraps have added chemicals to make them cling that would contaminate the recyclable batch.
Interestingly, some manufacturers are developing recycling programs for their plastic packaging. See the Terracycle website https://www.terracycle.com/en-US . Terracycle develops and promotes programs with manufacturers to collect and reuse their specific packaging. For example, I just bought Open Farm dog food at the Greenfield Farmers Cooperative Exchange and checking on Terracycle found that Open Farm has a bag recycling program.
We’ve all seen plastic bags polluting our neighborhoods, rivers and ultimately the ocean. Greenfield’s ban on plastic grocery bags is a positive step to reduce this pollution. Our efforts to further reduce using plastic packaging and recycling packaging whenever possible will also help reduce pollution. As Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said in his videotalk last year: “Love the world that God loves. ... Help God love God’s world.”
-Ella Ingraham, for the Green Team
We hope to help our community become stewards of creation.