Notes from the Plastic Bag and Film Forum Jockey Ridge State Park July 28, 2017, from League of Women Voters, Dare County
The primary focus of the forum was understanding the impact that plastic bags and film have on recycling facilities, how to properly recycle them, and Onslow Beach County’s campaign to increase awareness of the subject. The coordinators of the event were Karen Terry-Johnson, Carolina Recycling Association, and Lisa Rider, Deputy Director of Solid Waste for Onslow County. Other presenters included:
- Mindy Love, NC DEACS
- John Coward, Eastern Carolina Vocational Center
- Sarah Hallas, NC Coastal Federation
- Shari Jackson, WRAP Program Director
- Tonya Randell, WRAP Program Consultant
The following is a brief synopsis highlighting key points. References are provided for those who want more information.
Plastic bags – single use plastic bags (SUPBs) made from polyethylene resins, such as high-density polyethylene (HDPE), low-density polyethylene (LDPE), and linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE).
Plastic film – clean polyethylene (PE) film from commercial sources, including stretch wrap and poly bags. From the consumer perspective, plastic bags and film are essentially the same thing, but include more than just SUPBs. For example, wraps used on paper towels, bags for bread, produce, dry cleaning, newspapers, shrink-wrap, etc.
Material Recovery Facility (MRF) – a facility that receives and separates comingled recyclable material (paper, glass, aluminum, and plastics) in preparation for recycling.
Plastic bags and films disposed of in curbside recycle bins or recycling collection centers get tangled in rollers and handling gear of the MRFs. This limits the rate at which the MRF can process recyclables, requires manual labor to clear the clogs and entanglements, and reduces the quality of the output of the MRF. Together, these effects increase the cost of processing and reduce the price the MRF can charge for the recycled material. Clean and dry plastic bags and films are recyclable, but not via curbside or regular recycling centers. In Dare County, this is generally handled by retail chains such as Food Lion and Harris Teeter. recycled in the same manner as other recyclable material.
To maximize recycling effectiveness and efficiency, keep plastic bags and film clean, dry and dispose of them at retail locations that recycle them (you can find the nearest one by entering your zip code on the Plastic Film Recycling website). If the bags or film not clean and dry, dispose of them with the regular trash.
Other Useful Information
Recycling symbol numbers indicate the type of plastic a container or bag is made from. It does not mean that it can be handled by all MRFs. Bay Disposal & Recycling, who provide curbside pickup for some towns in the OBX, can handle plastics #1 (water and soda bottles), #2 (milk jugs and liquid detergent containers), and #5 (butter and yogurt tubs).
Some of the county run sights accept #2 through #7, but this does not apply to all of the towns (the Town of Southern Shores indicates they can accept #1 and #2). You will need check the facilities for your location. Note that none of them accept plastic bags or film; they can only be recycled by retail stores.
Debris cleanup tracking apps.
It is helpful to environmental and governmental organizations to keep track of the litter we pick up in our community; and, there are now some excellent phone apps that make this easy. NOAA’s Marine Debris Tracker and Ocean Conservancy’s Clean Swell apps are available for iPhone and Android phones. Both are easy to use and maintain a centralized database of what was picked up, as well as the time and location. Users can also access the database if they want to look at the history of what they’ve picked up, or see data on litter in any region.
Wrap Recycling Action Program (WRAP) – https://www.plasticfilmrecycling.org/recycling-bags-and- wraps/wrap-consumer-content/
Recycle More NC – http://www.recyclemorenc.org/
Plastic Bag Ban Repeal Legislation
The NC General Assembly reconvenes next Thursday, August 3, 2017 at noon. The legislation to repeal the plastic bag ban in our region (HB 56 – AN ACT TO AMEND VARIOUS ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS) has been assigned a conference committee, so it remains in play. Please call each of the committee members listed below to let them know where you stand on the issue.
|Rep. David R. Lewis
|Rep. Dean Arp
|Sen. Andy Wells
|Rep. Donny Lambeth 919-733-5747||Rep. Larry Yarborough 919-715-0850||Sen. Bill Cook (919) 715-8293|
|Rep. Chuck McGrady 919-733-5956||Rep. Pat McElraft 919-733-6275||Sen. Trudy Wade (919) 733-5856|