Lou is not accepting any more plastic bag donations for upcycling EXCEPT CEREAL AND CRACKER BAGS (seen above) as these are in short supply and very much needed for Lou’s workshops and classes. Please get in touch by clicking here if you have cereal or cracker bags to donate and read below for tips on what else you can do with your other bags, wrappers, and packaging instead of throwing them away.
What do we with all our plastic bags now? Which plastic bags go where?
There is no simple solution. Manufacturers create packaging without taking into consideration what happens after the product is taken out and consumed. Many plastic bags also contain metals and waxes which make them un-recyclable and so most plastic bags end up in the trash. Let’s change that!
Each community’s collection procedures are different: The general rule is: RESEARCH your community’s guidelines and DO NOT put bags in with your other recyclables. Some towns offer bag recycling at their transfer stations, most bags can only be recycled at retail stores. It is up to you to become INFORMED. The guidelines posted in this page are for Franklin County, MA and could generally be applied to most national retails that collect such as Staples, Whole Foods, Stop and Shop, Big Y, Hannaford, Von’s, etc. Please check with your local retailers and if they don’t have a bin, start advocating for one!
Take a look at the column on the left of the guide below. These are the only plastic bags you can recycle at participating stores. The rule is only #2 and #4 plastic bags can be recycled. Sometime’s it’s hard to know just what kind of plastic you are dealing with.
#2 (High density polyethylene) and #4 (low density polyethylene) plastic bags are the only type you can recycle and will be labeled with the circular arrow symbols on the bag, usually on the back, in the corner. If you don’t see the number, and the type of bag is not on the guide, your safest bet is to assume it’s not recyclable and do not toss it in the collection bin.
PLASTIC BAG RECYCLING GUIDELINES (Printable PDF)
Where do my recycled plastic bags go? Are they really getting recycled?
Here in Massachusetts, your recycled bags are headed to Trex, a decking company who uses your bags to create eco-friendly composite decking. You can read more about them here. While it’s not an end all solution, 500-square foot composite Trex deck contains 140,000 recycled plastic bags! That makes them one of the largest plastic bag recyclers in the U.S.
We have seen a HUGE increase increase in plastic bag recycling in the past few years but still, the world is only recycling about 3-5% of the total amount of bags out there. NOT using plastic bags is the best bet. Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to live a plastic free life but some have succeeded and many try every day. Plastic is everywhere.
I’ve recycled the plastic bags that I can. What do I do with the rest?
Inevitably, we all end up with plastic bags and packaging. Even when we try to limit the number we purchase. Not many companies in the country accept un-recyclable plastic bags for use. Try Terracycle as they may be able to accept your bags. After that, it’s up to you and your household to manage how much plastic trash you are throwing away. Thanks for all you do to minimize waste!