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Ivan Titov
Ivan Titov

Where Can I Buy Plastic Grocery Bags

Certain flexible plastic packages can be recycled through Store Drop-Off locations. Look for the How2Recycle Store Drop-Off label on flexible plastics made of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and low-density polyethylene (LDPE), including grocery and produce bags, bread bags, some plastic wraps, some plastic mailers, some cereal bags, and more.

where can i buy plastic grocery bags


Many How2Recycle retail members have Store Drop-Off collection bins in their stores, including Target, Walmart, Albertsons, and Wegmans! Wherever you see a plastic bag recycling bin in retail stores, you can also recycle your bags, wraps, and films. You do not need to take these items back to the same place where you bought them. Even if you purchased the packages online, you can still take them to any retail store with a plastic bag recycling bin.

Incentivizing the use of reusable bags by charging five cents per paper bag is an approach that has proven successful in Richmond and Fairfax County, Virginia, as well as other markets. In stores where the company has already eliminated plastic bags, on average, paper bags are used for 20-25% of transactions, while the remaining 75-80% use reusable bags, or no bag at all.

Throughout the remainder of the year, Wegmans will continue its phased approach to eliminating single-use plastic bags at its remaining 27 stores in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. At the time of each rollout, Wegmans will work to ensure consistency in its approach across all markets, unless legislation dictates otherwise.

But while the moves are being lauded by environmentalists and the local governments that support them, some are questioning whether the move will be effective, primarily because of the unintended environmental consequences associated with replacement materials such as paper, thick plastic and reusable bags.

Until the early '80s, paper bags were standard for carrying groceries. With the adoption of plastic bags by grocery chains Safeway and Kroger in 1982, plastic bags soon dominated supermarkets and convenience stores across the U.S. by the end of the decade, the UNEP states.

In the U.S., 380 billion plastic bags and wraps are used every year, requiring 12 million barrels of oil to create, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Low-density polyethylene, the material from which plastic bags are made, is produced from crude oil or natural gas, making the petroleum-based plastic bags non-biodegradable.

In the U.S., statewide bans against plastic bags are being put into place. Eight states have passed legislation banning single-use plastic bags, with three -- California, Hawaii, and Oregon -- currently in effect. Bans in New York, Maine and Vermont are scheduled as early as next month, while in several cities, restrictions have been implemented without the adoption of state-led legislation.

California became the first to introduce regulations banning single-use plastic bags in August 2014. Proposition 67, also known as SB270, officially passed in November 2016, prohibits plastic bags at groceries, chain pharmacies, and other stores.

During a 2010 annual beach cleanup, crews from CAW reported that 65,000 grocery bags were scattered along water bodies, a number that CAW says decreased by 72% in 2017. Mark Murray, executive director of the nonprofit, attributed the decrease to the ban.

Retailers in California have been in full compliance with the law, he said, and compared to the 13.8 billion grocery bags that were once distributed in the state each year prior to the policy, none are now distributed. Instead, paper and reusable grocery bags are supplied to customers for a fee.

Commissioner Basil Seggos of the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) hopes that the ban will prevent 23 million single-use plastic bags used annually in the state from ending up in the environment and landfills. He expects the quality of life for New Yorkers to increase when harmful litter becomes eliminated.

Paper has been widely supported by legislators as a less environmentally damaging alternative to plastic bags. Terry Webber, executive director of the American Forest & Paper Association, a paper industry trade association, said paper is a renewable, recyclable and compostable resource that is made with wood fiber from sustainably managed forests.

As opposed to petroleum-based plastic bags, Webber claims two-thirds of the energy used to make paper comes from renewable biomass (residuals such as tree limbs and bark that are used as a renewable energy source to power paper mills). 90% of water used during manufacturing also returns to waterways, he claimed.

However, the shift from plastic to reusable and paper bags has been met with skepticism by some consumers, manufacturers and industry experts, who fear banning plastic will result in additional environmental problems and hurt consumers.

Results indicate that though conventional plastic bags tend to have higher environmental impacts when released into the environment, when compared to alternatives (such as compostable bioplastic, paper, thick plastic, and oxo-degradable plastic bags), they appear to have the least overall environmental impact (except as litter).

The study, which looks at human health, quality of ecosystems, use of fossil fuels and abandonment in the environment, indicates that paper was the lowest-performing type of single-use bag with potential environmental impacts ranging 4 to 28 times that of a standard plastic grocery bag.

Also, reusables made from cotton, woven and non-woven polypropylene bags require tens to thousands of uses before they become more environmentally efficient than single-use plastic bags, the study says.

From Recyc-Quebec to the United Kingdom's Environment Agency other studies highlight the necessity of prolonged use when using reusable bags in order for their environmental benefits to exceed that of single-use plastic bags.

Virgin plastic, she explained, is ultimately a byproduct of the fossil fuel industry and is kept a low-cost material, allowing it to be made abundantly. As fossil fuels are major contributors to climate change, Nichols says she has come to believe banning plastic bags altogether is the right thing to do. Similar to California and Oregon's bans, she believes people in Maine will not only adhere to the restriction, but reap its benefits.

In Oregon, the Department of Environmental Quality received a steady stream of phone calls in the first few weeks after implementing the ban. As residents grew accustomed to the policy, calls slowly tapered off and officials noted an uptick in use of reusable plastic bags in supermarkets.

When it comes to single-use plastic bag bans, environmental officials advise consumers to make choices that limit the number of any disposable bags they use - whether that is paper or plastic. Recycling paper and properly disposing of plastic bags ensure litter and harmful toxins aren't excessively released into the environment. On the manufacturing end, environmental officials argue that the responsibility to construct products more sustainably must fall on producers to create systemic change. 041b061a72


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