Egremont — If you’re diligent about composting and recycling, your trash bag keeps getting lighter and lighter. But there are still a few categories of packaging debris that end up in the trash bin at the transfer station, preventing you from achieving zero waste.
One day, I peered into my kitchen trashcan and said to myself: “OK, I’ve reduced the amount of my kitchen trash significantly, but dang, there are a lot of plastic wrappers in there! Is there a way to keep this from going into the landfill?”
I went online and typed in the question “Are plastic wrappers recyclable?” I quickly learned that the official term is “plastic film” and YES! a lot of plastic film wrapping IS easily recyclable!
The most common examples are bags for dry cleaning, groceries, bread and produce, including zip-top bags (with the little hard-plastic zipper removed). The wrap around many products–including paper plates, napkins, bathroom tissue, paper towels, water and soda bottles, and diapers–may also be recyclable plastic film.
As consumers, we simply take our clean and dry plastic-film wrapping, plastic bags, etc., to the bottle redemption rooms at our local grocery stores. Both Big Y and Price Chopper provide collection barrels there.
Plastic wrapping material that you should still throw into the ordinary trash includes anything dirty that can’t be washed and dried. Other examples: plastic food wrap (such as Saran or Glad Wrap), frozen food bags, potato chip or snack bags that tear like paper, and pet supply or stove pellet bags.
Our grocery stores sell the plastic film to companies that recycle it into new plastic-based products. However, the dollar amount the stores receive from selling it is relatively small, so we are lucky to have a few local businesses who are willing to get involved.
I should emphasize that wishful recycling–when we put the things into a recycling stream that aren’t allowed–is a huge no-no. So if you are wondering whether to take an item to the recycling barrels, check this list. You can also consult the service-counter folks at your drop-off location. If you’re still not sure, the best advice is to throw it away so that you don’t contaminate the load. When in doubt, throw it out.
My favorite resource guide is PlasticFilmRecycling.org. It provides easy-access information and publicity materials. The same group has a launched a successful nationwide campaign called W.R.A.P., aka the Wrap Recycling Action Program.
The Egremont Green Committee can be reached at email@example.com.