Recycling Plastic Bags Roanoke VA
Recycling Plastic Bags
Is it really possible to recycle polythene bags? Otherwise known as plastic shopping bags, these things pollute our land, sea, and even the air once the litter breaks up into tinier, even more harmful particles. About 1 million plastic bags are used and discarded per minute around the globe, which is why there’s a lot of hype going on now about Polythene Bags treatment and the whole science behind recycling plastic, in general. But the question still remains, can plastic bags actually be recycled? You may want to ask yourself that the next time you visit a bag recycling center. The things they tell you there may make you change your shopping habits. This may also answer your questions about why certain recycling service centers don’t accept plastic bags.
Plastic types and recyclability
While a lot of people are using recycling as a justification for their plastic usage, let’s go through the details again. This plastic water container is very different from that plastic shopping bag, and the numbers will tell you why. At the bottom of your plastic water container is a number encircled by arrows. This shows you what type of plastic it is, and whether it can be treated and recycled for future use. That plastic bag you’re carrying on your other hand? It won’t have a number encircled by arrows because it cannot be recycled. It can only be washed, dried, then returned to the manufacturer for “proper disposal”. Some parts of Africa make use of plastic bags to build hats the same way one would use straws. But reusing plastic bags this way still doesn’t justify the enormous environmental damage it causes the planet.
If you see the number 1 or 2 encircled in arrows at the bottom of the container you’re using, this simply means that you’re holding a recyclable plastic polyethylene container. These can be easily treated and used as bean bags, ropes, furniture, toys, piping and so on. The number inside the arrows at the bottom of your container indicates the code for the plastic type you’re using. This way, the recycling centers will know how to distribute and process then properly.
Plastics with the numbers 3 to 5 indicated in the recycling logo are less commonly recycled, and should be avoided by consumers as much as possible. These types include plastic used as piping, in wrapping films, sandwich bags, microwavable containers, and so on. Very few recycling centers will accept these plastics because they’re harder and costlier to recycle.
Number 6 plastics (Styrofoam) that are used in coffee cups, meat trays, and other containers, are also difficult types to recycle. As much as possible, consumers should avoid using them. Although they’re very convenient for emergencies, their disposability and non-biodegradability make them very harmful to the environment. The number 7 plastic products are the most difficult to recycle, and the number of recycling centers that are capable of treating them are too few. These plastic items have the number 7 labeled on them, or they may have no labeling at all because they cannot be recycled.
Are paper bags an option?
There was a time when paper bags became the number one solution to plastic pollution problems. Grocery stores started using these paper bags, or gave their customers the option to use paper bags instead of plastic bags. There was only one problem: the production of paper bags meant that a lot of trees had to be cut down. Because these bags are disposable, they’re used only once and then discarded. The recycling process of these paper bags consumed a lot of money and time. The huge production demand for paper rose, and soon, people were cutting more trees. This led to more environmental issues, furthering the already serious problem of global warming.
So how do we solve this problem?
Today, the environmentalist’s solution to the plastic bag problem is not just to recycle plastic bags or use paper bags instead. Now, the only practical solution is to use high quality, reusable environmental bags. Yes, if you can bring your own cloth grocery bags, do so. By not using anything that’s disposable, you actually help protect the environment.
Most groceries today allow you to buy reusable shopping bags with their label on it. If you frequent specific grocery stores every week or more than once a week, this is the only proper way to go shopping. It may be an effort on your part to have to wash these reusable bags after grocery shopping, but think of it this way. By not patronizing the production of plastic and paper bags, you’re lowering the demand for these products. Hence, you’re also nudging other people to make efforts to protect the environment no matter how small your efforts may seem to you right now.
Other conscious efforts
Scientific efforts are also under way to make disposable containers that are biodegradable and would not require us to cut down too many trees. A company in Toronto called Mountain Equipment Co-op, for example, is exploring the possibilities of turning corn into bags. This can be a more ethical substitute for plastic and paper bags. There’s only one downside to this development, however. As of today, these corn-based bags are several times more expensive than the plastic bags we’ve grown accustomed to. Most retailers would probably not be able to stock up on these plastic bags, which is also the reason why these corn-based bags are still not offered in the market.
What can you do now?
There’s really only one option for you right now if you want to be an environmentally-correct consumer. That is to use recyclable environment bags made out of cloth for your shopping needs. You should make an effort to support only grocery stores that allow and promote the use of these reusable bags. As much as possible, boycott those who completely ignore the need for us to recycle and do away with harmful plastic bags. Of course, you will still use plastic containers because they’re used in the products you purchase off the grocery shelves. However, not using disposable plastic bags for shopping can already significantly help lessen the plastic pollution we’re facing today.