Letter in Arlington: Recycling Plastic Film Shopping Bags?

Letter in Arlington: Recycling Plastic Film Shopping Bags?

To the editor:

The recent article, “10 Things You Can Do to Sustain Arlington” correctly points out that proper recycling is an excellent way to keep the community clean. However, it misses a key detail regarding the plastic retail bags shoppers rely on every day to get their groceries home.

While not generally accepted in the curbside recycling program, plastic film shopping bags continue to be easily recycled through the industry-pioneered store takeback program. Usually located at the front of the store, these bins found at retailers like Harris Teeter, Giant, and Safeway can help ensure a circular end life for bags and other stretchy plastic film products.

Through the use of this program, recycling rates for plastic bags and similar films continue to trend upwards. In 2021, over 1.1 billion pounds of plastic film were collected for recycling. Of that total, over 264 million pounds of plastic retail bags and film were collected through the store takeback program, a 7.9% increase from the year prior.

At more than 340 locations across the country, including at a large facility just outside Richmond, more than 30,000 Americans are hard at work each day manufacturing and recycling the bags families in Arlington rely on. In turn, these bags and film products can be recycled into materials like composite lumber and decking, playground equipment, railroad ties, and much more.

When you ask for plastic at the checkout counter and then return them to the store for recycling, you’re not just choosing the product with the fewest environmental impacts, you’re helping support Virginia workers and making a sustainable choice for the planet.

Zachary Taylor, Director

American Recyclable Plastic Bag Alliance