In a world full of environmental doom and gloom, it’s always nice to hear stories of headway being made to reduce plastic waste.
According to the latest National Post-Consumer Recycled Plastic Bags and Film Report, an estimated 416,197 short tons of post-consumer film (including plastic bags and wraps) were recycled in the USA in 2008.
This represented a 28 percent increase in plastic bag and film recycling since 2005, driven by increased consumer access to collection programs, as well as by new markets for these recycled materials such as composite lumber.
I guess some of it would be attributable to the many folks taking up plastic bag crafts too – kudos to you all ;).
I think the plastic bag manufacturing industry has also seen the writing on the wall (such as bans on these bags) and as a result is becoming more engaged on the issue. Last year, the Progressive Bag Affiliates (PBA) announced a recycling goal of 40 percent recycled content in all plastic shopping bags made by companies by 2015.
The PBA says the Full Circle Recycling Initiative will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 231,500 tons, conserve enough energy to heat 200,000 homes and reduce plastic bag waste and film by 150,000 tons annually.
Then there’s the reduction in petro-chemicals that are derived from crude oil. Nearly 10 percent of U.S. oil consumption, approximately 2 million barrels a day – is used to make plastics.
It’s certainly good progress, however according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, about 13 percent of plastic bags and film are recycled annually – so there’s a long way to go.
When it comes to those disposable plastic shopping bags, we really don’t need them anyway. As I’ve mentioned in the past, the state I live in (South Australia) banned disposable shopping bags last year and we all seem to be getting on fine without them. I haven’t heard of unemployment increasing as a result, anyone emigrating to other states for want of these bags, nor does the ban appear to have created black market disposable shopping bag crime syndicates.
There has certainly been a noticeable reduction in roadside trash since.