News Flash

Refuse and Recycling

Posted on: February 7, 2018

Recycling Plastic Grocery Bags and Plastic Film

plastic bags bunch

Recycling Plastic
Grocery Bags and Plastic Film

Thanks to everyone who called to ask about recycling plastic grocery bags.  

Plastic bags, as common as they are, are still not as widely recycled as other forms of plastic. According to the EPA, only 12 percent of the category of plastics that includes bags, sacks, and wraps ended up getting recycled. That’s compared to 31 percent of PET bottles and jars (water bottles or peanut jars, for example).

Typically made of high-density polyethylene (HDPE, number 2 plastic) or low-density polyethylene (LDPE, number 4 plastic), plastic bags and other soft plastics are difficult to recycle because of their form. 

plastic bags around sorterWhen plastic bags get mixed in with other recyclables,they’re difficult to sort out, and often jam or damage the machines at
materials recovery facilities and slow down the recycling process. Check out our new video!

The City of Manassas sends all of our recycling to the American Recycling Center, right here in Manassas. Their equipment is designed to separate rigid materials like cans, bottles, or paper products. 

How Can I Tell if it’sPlastic Film?

That’s easy! If the plastic material in question can be wrapped around your finger, it doesn't belong in your recycle bin.

Where Can I Recycle
Plastic Bags?

trex deckingWhile it’s best to reduce the amount of plastic bags you use by reusing them or remembering to bring your own reusable bags to the grocery store, you can still recycle plastic bags and keep them out of landfills or the environment. 

Most large grocery chains, home improvement stores, and retailers like Harris Teeter, Food Lion, Giant, Wal-Mart and Target provide collection bins, usually by the main entrance, for clean and dry soft plastics such as:

  • Grocery/carryout bags
  • Newspaper delivery bags
  • Dry cleaning wraps
  • Bread and produce bags
  • Zipper food storage bags
  • Plastic cereal box liners
  • Case wrap/shipping packaging (often found arounddiapers, snacks, water bottles, and paper towels)

trex benchAll of the plastic bags and wraps are collected and then shipped to Trex in Winchester, where they are turned into backyard decking, fences and playground equipment. 

Trex also has a recycling program in our local schools. If a school can collect more than 500 pounds of plastic refuse in a six-month span (about 40,500 plastic bags), they’ll donate a composite bench in return.


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