What a Bag! Thoughts on recycling plastic film.

What a Bag! Thoughts on recycling plastic film.

I’m going to admit that I am kind of glad that plastic film got removed from our local recycling program. Yep, you read that right. Why? Because I was getting pretty complacent about buying over-packaged things, since I could just recycle the plastic wrap around it. Well, no more!

I took about three months’ worth of our household plastic film and sorted it into categories to see what I could easily cut out.

Food Categories:

                Dry goods bags: like nuts, coconut, and oats. I’ll be re-committing to buying bulk where I can, and I have some bread bags that I will reuse to put them in. Nuts are something we eat quite a lot of, and they usually go stale in bulk bins, so that may be a place where I’m not as willing to make a compromise.

                Produce bags: from pre-packaged produce (apples and potatoes). I’ll only complain about this once in this article, I promise, but why does the reasonably priced organic food have to be so over packaged???!!! If you want to buy organic, you are usually forced to buy it in a bag – unless you buy from boutique stores at twice the price. Sigh. I’ll have to do some more comparison shopping to find well priced organic produce that I can put into my reusable produce bags.

                Bread bags: We don’t eat a lot of bread on our house, but enough that I don't need all those bags for reuse. I think we’ll move to bakery bread and bring our own bags. I am also going to experiment with making some sourdough at home once in a while.

                Frozen produce and meat bags: This is a tough one. We make a lot of smoothies with frozen fruit and it all comes in plastic bags. I’ll be looking into recycling options for this stream. I buy most of my meat direct from producers in the fall - so you can bet I'll be talking with them about what options can meet both of our needs. I'm hoping compostable butcher's paper is an option. 

                Cellophane product wrap: The hardest thing to recycle! No one wants to take cellophane crinkly plastic to recycle. We buy peanut butter in twos and they come shrunk wrapped together. Time to look for another comparable option. One of our local health food stores has a peanut butter maker, and you can bring your own jars - so that's on my list to try out.

                Bulk produce bags: I had been pretty lazy about using these. Now, I keep my reusable produce bags in my purse at all times. It’s not like I didn’t own them before…I just kept forgetting to bring them. Now that I take them each time, I’ve had some great conversations in the grocery line from others who want to use them too!  (I bought mine right from the grocery store - they were hanging in the produce section, but you can get them on online too).

Household Plastic:

We don't create a lot of household plastics that are all that easy to avoid. For all of the items in my list below I am currently looking into the How2Recycle program that is operated by the plastic film industry.

                Ziplock bags (worn out and not reusable anymore, generally given to us as I don't buy many new)

                Toilet paper packaging (there are very few options to buy it packaged any other way!)

                Clear plastic from packages – ie wrapping around vinyl records (my husband buys a lot of these…it’s a legitimate waste stream in our household!)

                Plastic shopping bags (the odd bag that gets given to us and can't be reused due to holes. I'm pretty religious about reusablee bags so we don't get many)

                Dishwasher tab bags (I have a recipe to make my own dishwasher powder instead - watch for the results of my tests soon)

This take-back program, also called the W.R.A.P program (by the American Chemistry Council), includes #2 and #4 stretchy plastics. You can look up where to take them for recycling on the website plasticfilmrecycling.org which works for both Canada and the US. Being a mildly skeptical person, I am checking into whether or not my local participating stores take all the items in their program, or only a select few. I will update this article when the corporate powers-that-be return my calls.

What about you? Have the recent changes in Saskatchewan around plastic bag recycling changed your habits, or made you think twice about the packaging you buy? Comment below.