Sunday, April 3, 2011

Bring your plastic to your retailer

I didn’t expect to learn so much about plastic bags, but here I am.  David Berry and Cathy Reynolds have explained to me the reasons they don’t collect film plastic at the Barn.  One issue is the Single Stream recycling that they/we all participate in that is processed at a large plant in Massachusetts.  The processor uses air to separate some of the plastic from the other recyclable materials and any film plastic in the bin becomes air born and clogs up the massive fans they use. I can picture that being a mess.  David explained the people power it takes to gather the film plastic in order to transport it… the film compacts a bit, then bounces back… then compacts a wee bit more.  He says it takes hours and hours to create a bale of plastic.  The bottom line is that there isn’t a market for the stuff that makes the labor to handle it worthwhile.  We are lucky that Hannaford, Shaws and some other local retailers provide bins in their stores to recycle this stuff.  I reached Casey Harris, an Environmental Program Specialist at Hannaford.  She said that their recycling program is a "point of pride" and confirmed that Hannaford would accept all types of film plastics in their bins, so long as they are “clean, dry and free of food residue”.   She went on to list the films that we all can drop off at Hannaford: the wrapping plastic around our paper towels, plastic around  toilet paper packages, zip lock bags “with the hardware removed”, produce bags, and all kinds of shopping bags.  No cling wrap, and nothing that is “really crinkly and crunchy” which signals a different type of plastic. I asked where it all goes and she said to Hilex Poly, a company in Indiana which turns it into more bags. They call it their Bag-2-Bag program.  Tour their website to hear a plastic producer trying to justify their existence… pretty interesting.

Bottom line: please just say NO to plastic bags and bring your own reusable totes. If you have them, do as the text on the bag says and "reuse them as many times as you can"...And if you can't escape them, bring them back to your retailer.

Meanwhile, I'll share a lovely sign of spring spotted at the Barn on Thursday.  Can't you hear the "cheep cheep cheep" ?