Plastic bags are everywhere. Many years ago the only bags at the grocery store were paper ones. Now you have a choice of paper, plastic or bring your bag. Where have all the bags gone after they are used? Plastic bag and film recycling in the U.S. reached a record high in 2008, recovering about 832 million pounds of post consumer film, according to a new study from the American Chemistry Council.
Plastic bags are difficult and costly to recycle and many end up on landfill sites where they take around 300 years to photo degrade. They break down into tiny toxic particles that contaminate the soil and waterways and enter the food chain when animals accidentally ingest them. But the problems surrounding waste plastic bags starts long before they photo degrade. Many become airborne and float surprising distances. Others can choke waterways and animals.
The “National Post-Consumer Recycled Plastic Bags and Film Report,” conducted by Moore Recycling Associates, finds that plastic bag and film recovery increased 28 percent since 2005, driven by several factors including greater consumer access to collection programs and new markets for the recycled materials such as backyard decking, fencing, railings, shopping carts and new bags.