If you are like me, you are alarmed by the enormous amount of plastic trash that is filling up our oceans, and disturbed by the harm it is having on the sea creatures and those who consume them. Maybe you have recently taken a stroll along the Santa Clara River, and have been disgusted by the sight of plastic bags strewn along the way. Most likely you’ve decided to tackle those concerns by recycling your plastic bags and wrappers.
But, before you toss your plastic waste into your curbside recycling bin, there are a number of things you should know.
Are all plastics the same? In a word, no. Therefore, not all plastics are recyclable when placed in your curbside recycling bin.
More specifically, there is a form of plastic called film or wrap, which cannot be recycled from your own bin; it must be brought to a store or facility that collects that type of plastic. Unfortunately, it is no longer easy to find a store that provides a receptacle for recycling film even though California laws have been written to require them to be available to shoppers.
So, what is plastic film? It is thin polyethylene plastic, also known as stretch film because it stretches when you pull it with your fingers. It is used for wraps, packaging and retail shopping bags.
Commonly used plastic film products are air pillows, bubble wrap, and bags used for dry cleaning, newspapers, bread, food storage and produce.
Incidentally, in order for these plastic items to be recyclable, they must be clean, dry and without tape or labels. For more information, you could go to plasticfilmrecycling.org.
With plastics polluting our oceans and rivers, it is incumbent upon us all to do whatever we can to reduce plastic waste in our environment. You might consider calling your neighborhood grocery store to see if a recycling bin is being provided for plastic film, and if not, urge the store manager to get one.