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Los Angeles Residents Demonstrate Strong Support for Plastic Bag Recycling

Jennifer Killinger (703) 741-5833
May 5, 2010

New Report Shows “Dramatic Increase” in Curbside Recycling of Plastic Bags and Wraps

ARLINGTON, VA (May 5, 2010) – A new study reveals a 39 percent growth in the recycling of plastic bags and film, a category that includes many types of plastic bags and product wraps, in Los Angeles County between 2007 and 2009.  Significantly, the recycling of plastic bags alone grew 62 percent during this period suggesting that residents have become accustomed to putting their plastic bags into their curbside recycling bins.  In the unincorporated areas of the county, curbside collection of plastic bags and film increased by 40 percent from 2007 to 2009.

The study was conducted by Moore Recycling Associates Inc. for the American Chemistry Council at the request of Los Angeles County Public Works.

“This is especially remarkable because LA residents achieved greater recycling rates in the middle of a recession, a time when recycling volumes for most materials fell.  Nationwide the recycling rate for materials dropped 2.7 percent from 2007 to 2008,” said Patty Moore, president and CEO of Moore Recycling Associates Inc

Plastic bags and film comprise a broad category of materials that can be recycled together, including plastic grocery and retail bags, newspaper bags, dry cleaning bags, commercial pallet wrap, and product wraps from bread, beverage cases, diapers, baby wipes and bulk snack foods.

“The dramatic increases in plastic bag recycling achieved in Los Angeles combined with the increases we’re seeing nationally demonstrate the success of California’s existing recycling law,” said Keith Christman, managing director of plastics markets for the American Chemistry Council.  “Thanks to existing recycling laws and the many take-back programs offered by large grocery and retail stores, these valuable plastic materials are being recycled and used to create durable backyard decks, home building products and new plastic bags,” Christman said.

In addition to the curbside collection of plastic bags and film, which is the subject of this report, there are approximately 400 large grocery and retail stores in Los Angeles County that take back plastic bags and film for recycling.  Although data are not currently collected for in-store recycling programs in the County, LA’s success in increasing bag and film recycling through curbside programs parallels a similar nationwide trend of continued growth in the recycling of plastic bags and wraps.

In 2008, more than 832 million pounds of plastic bags and wraps were recycled nationwide, marking a 28 percent increase since 2005.  And according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the recycling rate of polyethylene plastic bags and wraps doubled during this period to each 13 percent nationwide.

Currently, across the United States the majority of plastic bags and wraps are collected through at-store drop-off programs which are available at large grocery and retail chains in all fifty states.  At-store recycling programs have become especially prevalent in California as a result of legislation passed in 2007 that requires all grocery stores and pharmacies larger than 10,000 square feet to offer plastic bag recycling programs.  Since then, other states, such as New York, Delaware and Rhode Island have followed suit as have major cities, including Chicago, and New York City.

The full report, “2007, 2008 and 2009 Plastic Film and Bag Report,” was prepared for the American Chemistry Council as requested by Los Angeles County Public Works.

More information on innovative plastic bag recycling programs is available at http://www.plasticbagfacts.org/.

You can follow plastics recycling news on twitter @Recycle_Plastic http://twitter.com/Recycle_Plastic

Plastic Bag Facts | Plastic Bag Recycling 

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