Like paper, plastic can be recycled, but it isn’t simple or easy. Recycling involves essentially re-melting the bags and re-casting the plastic, though, according to the U.S. EPA, manufacturing new plastic from recycled plastic requires two-thirds of the energy used in virgin plastic manufacturing. The quality isn’t quite as good the second time around; the polymer chains often break leading to a lower-quality product. So basically, plastic is often downcycled — that is, the material loses viability and/or value in the process of recycling — into less functional forms, making it hard to make new plastic bags out of old plastic bags. However, if you do have plastic bags, it is still better to recycle then to just throw away.
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