Are plastic grocery bags recyclable?
This inconvenient truth has led the political leaders of San Francisco to enact a ban on the plastic bags.
Interestingly, as far as we can tell, some of these plastic bags are recycled. The Christian Science Monitor reports that nationally, "less than 1 percent of 100 billion plastic bags tossed each year get recycled." Obviously that's a very poor ratio, but it does show that the bags are technically recyclable.
The Sierra Club explains how. Supermarkets often offer to collect the plastic bags -- you may have seen the bins in front of stores. "In 2003 Safeway collected 7,000 tons of plastic grocery bags, pallet-wrap plastic, and dry cleaners' bags. The plastic is sold to a company that makes...lumber-like boards."
Still, few of the bags are ever collected, leaving the vast majority to float around in the breeze. In fact, the typical plastic grocery bag takes anywhere from 450 to 1,000 years to break down. The moral? Bring your own bags.
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