Can Plastic Grocery Bags Be Recycled?

Ending your shopping time with a bunch of plastic bags is no longer strange to us. It is truly wasting time to explain how convenient plastic grocery bags are. However, one matter always has 2 opposite sides. We all know that a plastic bag is not a compostable item that may affect our vulnerable environment, but we could not delete it in our living routines either.

Can Plastic Grocery Bags Be Recycled

Our mission is to find a solution to reconcile both of them. Have you ever wondered about recycling plastic grocery bags? In this article, we would like to answer this big question “Can plastic grocery bags be recycled”.

Why should plastic grocery bags be recycled?

Recent statistics have figured out that over 4.5 million tons of plastic grocery bags are used per year. However, only a few of them have been processed to minimize negative effects on the environment. People understand the difficulties of plastic disposal. It is truly a tough challenge that requires human awareness and advanced technology.

For technology, we can improve it gradually, but we cannot help a poor consciousness. Environmentalists have admitted that reducing the use of plastic bags is impossible. As a customer, humans just care what they consume which must be the most convenient at the best price.

So far, reducing the harmful effects of plastic waste to the environment through reducing our consumption is unworkable. Therefore, researchers have brainstormed a more optimal solution. It is recycled!

The plastic bags recycling process

Recycle means humans are allowed to consume plastic bags as usual. If the life of a plastic grocery bag is divided into 2 main parts including used and discarded, we should focus on the discarded part. As explained above, we could not control the use of plastic bags so that improving the next action is supposed to be easier.

The ideal process of recycling plastic grocery bags is from collecting action. Plastic bags are collected and gathered in one place. The next step is chipping these bags into pellets. In the end, these pellets will be used as material to make the new bags.

Preparation for recycling plastic grocery bags

This is the very first step of the plastic bag recycling process. This stage aims to remove all remaining things inside the bags. Recycling workers claim that the number of receipts, crumbs, and even money finding inside old bags is uncountable.

They take their time much and some receipts may be stuck in recycling bins then cause serious errors in the recycling process. A simple instruction which has been made by a recycling specialist suggests that all remaining items might be sorted following plastic symbols before throwing them into recycling bins.

The truth untold behind recycling centers

The recycling market is constantly changing that all recyclers admit that their business is unplannable either. They do not know the final destination of plastic grocery bags or even recycling productions being published by themselves. Even when all plastic grocery bags are processed right as professional instruction, recycling manufacturers could not ensure these materials would be recycled.

There is no clear “away” definition for the used plastic bags. Some used plastic grocery bags may be recycled but most of them are still out under the ground, sinking in the seas. It is like a timing bomb waiting to explode that everything we can do is delaying the horrible time as late as possible.

Back to the big curiosity that plastic grocery bags can be recycled or not. The final answer is yes, we can do it! However, the workload we are trying to do still takes up a very small part, just like the tip of an iceberg. The only thing you should pay attention to is moving forward by hesitating great achievements up to now. 

Throwback to the last time when we first faced the problem

It is true to say that plastic grocery bags dominated our living. We are referring to the 1980s when plastic grocery bags were on the sneak peeks. It transformed the method of shopping and storing our purchases.

People were constantly praising how amazing plastic grocery bags are. Strong, dog-cheap, waterproof are perfect characters for a single-use product. It is made to be thrown away for sure. The plastic industry has achieved a lot of success but ignoring the future consequences. For now, every single corner of this planet has plastic footprints.

Everything was continuing up to the 2009s, the Ecology Center realized that strong actions had to be taken to reduce the use of plastic grocery bags. The strategy points directly to disposable plastic bags which includes preventing plastic grocery bags throwing in the environment, cutting down the use of plastic grocery bags in the market, and charging for recyclable items. This is supposed to be one step closer to contribute to a green community.

Many big cities have followed this campaign such as San Francisco and Alameda County. Inspired significantly for a sustainable life, California has included this issue through legislative action in 2014.

Accordingly, grocery stores, convenience stores, and pharmacies, etc. were banned from distributing single-use plastic bags. This movement is a breakthrough in reducing plastic grocery bags and stimulating recycling actions later. 

Evaluate current conditions of the plastic recycling industry

As mentioned before, the plastic recycling industry is not as smooth as you think. Besides considerable efforts to optimize the use of plastic grocery bags, we still have many black holes in this industry.

For a long time ago, China was one of the biggest customers who buy the most used plastic grocery bags from all over the world. Their vision is to hold a huge material source to recycle these bags. A low cost and eco friends are a great combination in the beginning.

However, the story did not go on the right path. Mass imported materials could not be controlled and dumped in oceans or even waterways. Unfortunately, the bribery and frauds in management have kept this situation hidden for a long time so that the government could not do anything to recover dire conditions. Since 2017, China has decided to stop recycling plastic grocery bag activities. 

During that time, many countries saw a better investment opportunity. Thanks to the incredible fracking of natural gas, virgin plastic is founded out to be cheaper and more optimal than recycled plastic. It leads to the strategic changes of a series of large companies. However, the number of plastic recycling centers is still large to respond to the market’s demand in time.

The actual conditions of the recycling industry are still a mystery but the operation of recycling plastic grocery bags is going on so that you could not find any sign of stopping. Therefore, we believe that the recycling of plastic grocery bags is satisfactory and necessary as always.

What should we do as an individual to help?

The only slogan you have never forgotten is “reduce and reuse”. We must try our best to get rid of plastic grocery bags. Some careful customers bring their clothing bags when they go shopping. In case your purchase item is so small, please forget about asking for a plastic grocery bag. It is truly the easiest effort to support recycling centers and protect our environment as well.

On the other hand, you should not buy food in pouches. Trust us, the quality of the foods is still maintained in the same way as proceeding one. Last but not least, do not forget to sort your plastic rubbish before throwing it away. Your tiny actions create community culture.

To sum up

A short answer to the question “Can plastic grocery bags be recycled” is “Yes”. We can recycle them to minimize the negative effects on our environment and our health. It is an important chapter in the book of protecting our planet and maintaining it eternally. We hope you enjoy this article. Please feel free to let us know your opinions!