According to a recent post on KGW.com in Portland, Oregon, one recycling center there is no longer accepting plastic bags for recycling due to a change in market conditions. The major factor is that China is no longer accepting plastic bags or film. China banned plastic bags five years ago, and has recently cracked down on the import of waste materials for recycling in what has come to be called the 'Green Fence.'
In California, 13 billion bags are distributed annually, and only three percent of those are ever actually recycled. Municipal recycling centers complain that the bags gum up their recycling machinery and cost thousand of dollars in lost time when workers have to shut down the machines to remove the bags. Plastic bags also clog stormwater systems and pollute waterways. That's why 77 communities have taken action to reduce plastic bag pollution. Now that LA City has passed an ordinance banning single-use plastic bags, one in three Californians will soon live in a community covered under a local ordinance.
While the plastics industry continues to claim recycling is the answer to the proliferation of single-use plastic grocery bags, it's clear that it hasn't solved the myriad problems caused by this problem product. The best way to reduce the economic and environmental impacts caused by plastic bag pollution is for bags not to enter the environment in the first place.
Find out more about the campaign to end single use plastic bags.
Photo credit: Grist