Plastic bags can be recycled into a variety of materials used for new products, such as pellets and composite lumber. But in most places you can’t put plastic bags out on the street; you have to recycle them at a center.
If you click on the link I’ve provided there’s a great website where you can select where you live and find plastic bag recycling centers near you!
Unfortunately for the most part plastic bags are downcycled because they are not designed to be able to be recycled back into the same quality plastics bags that they were originally. In the process of making plastic bags into other products some of the original resources are lost as waste. When they are downcycled into pellets and lumber it requires more energy and produces more waste because plastic bags were never designed with these secondary uses in mind. Downcycling is a response to poor design and over-consumption. While downcycling plastic bags into other products may seem like a good thing it is really just being less bad. Eventually, through each downcycling the product’s value will be slowly degraded into waste. So recycling in this case is simply slowing the process of the waste accumulating in the landfills. What should be done is to encourage companies to design products that can be upcycled into products of equal or greater value without additives.
Plastic shopping bags can usually be recycled if you take them back to the store you purchased them from. They should have recycling bins located inside the store if your curbside recycling program does not accept them. They can also be reused in a variety of ways, such as by storing clothes in them, using them as lunch sacks, or lining small wastebaskets with them.
I think, when it comes to plastic bags, it is best to reuse them. The best use I have found for them is in the disposing of my cat’s business. Many people in my neighborhood seem to have the same idea and bring them on their dog walks. Otherwise, we need to purchase plastic bags for the job! If used for other, less finite, purposes–they can serve for a very long time.
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