From Iconoculture: WHAT’S HAPPENING
- Flexible packaging (like plastic bags, pouches and wraps) is emerging as the new frontier for recycling, and both education and infrastructure are necessary to get consumers and businesses onboard. In what could become the model for programs in other states and regions, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) is working with industry to support flexible-packaging recycling by consumers as well as businesses.
- WDNR has partnered with the American Chemistry Council (ACC) and GreenBlue’s Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) on the effort, which got underway in spring 2013.
- Although municipal recycling systems aren’t there yet, the number of store drop-off collection points for post-consumer bags and flexible packaging is increasing. Printing the Store Drop-off label on recyclable material is an effective way to drive collection at those drop-offs.
- At the commercial level, the project will build a recycling network through which small and medium-size companies can recycle used film packaging, including pallet wrap. The project will also encourage companies to print SPC’s How2Recycle Store Drop-off label on flexible packaging that can be recycled.
- In addition, the project will raise awareness among consumers and educate them about recycling grocery bags and other packaging made from polyethylene film (Newsle.com, 11 February 2013).
- I’ve found myself on multiple occasions wondering about the need for plastic bags used in the produce department at grocery stores. Why do we even need them? You put fruits and veggies into a bag, just to put them into another bag during check out. Unless you’re getting grapes which are susceptible to falling off of the vine, putting vegetables straight into your basket means nothing because you’ll wash them before you use them anyway. Plus, my attention is on the harmful substances inside of so many fruits and vegetables today, which are much more concerning than the slight contamination they may get from the surface of a shopping cart. We as a society have adopted behaviors without fully comprehending the outcome and effects on a mass scale of the behavior by the millions of people living in this country.
- An estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are used worldwide every year, with 380 billion of those in the U.S. Wisconsin isn’t the first place to try to spearhead the issue of over-consumption of plastic bags in our society, yet they are the first to push a state-wide recycling program. Other areas have taken different measures, such as Los Angeles recently banning free plastic bags in grocery stores. Not surprisingly, Portland and San Francisco have already enforced plastic bag bans. Plastic bags are not the only issue though because our mass-consumer, always on-the-go, need for convenience lifestyle has spurred the growth of plastic packaging on almost all of the food we buy in stores. That may be too far gone to change now, but attempted elimination of plastic bags and adoption of recycling programs are at least great places to start! So get out there and don those reusable bags you’ve been collecting and then forgetting at home every time you visit the store!