When You Get a Plastic Bag, What Should You Do With It?

by on July 9, 2015 · 1 comment

in Culture, Environment, Ocean Beach

OB plastic bags mh 01 A Treatise on Plastic Bags – Part 1

By Lois Lane

Walking home from Newport, I saw on my journey the nefarious “newsprint in plastic bags” on the sidewalk and in people’s yards. Were these the San Diego Union Tribune Ads, topic of a recent OB Town Council meeting? Closer inspection revealed them to be the Peninsula Beacon. What is it with these plastic bags?

Although the obvious and correct answer is “do not use them,” we all have plastic bags that come into our homes, one way or another. They may even be grocery bags or bread in a bag. If you order any product on-line, it is delivered in a plastic bag, and the contents of the plastic bag is in a plastic bag.

Recycling them is not as simple as it might be.

We all know that plastic bags don’t go in the blue recycling bin. The San Diego Municipal Code, (Article 6, Division 7, Recycling Ordnance) does not even mention plastic bags. The only plastic allowed in the blue bin must be rigid. This means that the stores that do offer plastic bag recycling are part of a volunteer program for businesses. There are no legal and specific rules for plastic bag recycling, helpful though that would be.

OB plastic bags mh 04It is possible to recycle plastic bags.

If you are a New York Times subscriber, it comes in a blue plastic sleeve that states:

“THIS BAG IS RECYCLABLE. BRING IT BACK. www.plasticbagrecycling.org lists participating stores and outlets in your area. “

The New York Times link directs us to Target and Vons near OB, both big supporters of this program.

I had to work hard to find a SD Union Tribune subscriber, but they also deliver the news in bags marked recyclable.

OB plastic bags mh 03Locally in OB, Stumps and CVS have plastic bag recycling bins just inside the front doors. Olive Tree Market and Rite-Aide do not offer recycling bins.

Walmart and Whole Foods, although not nearby, also participate. Barons Marketplace marks their bags “Please return to a participating store for recycling” but does not mention they are not currently participating, (but do expect to do so in the next few months, according to the manager).

Not all plastic bags are recyclable. No frozen food bags, pre-washed salad bags, or bio-degradable bags are accepted. Film (plastic wrap) is variable. As there are no legal definitions, the safest course of action is to return for recycling those bags marked with some version of “Recycle if Clean and Dry” or just “Recycle.”

OB plastic bags mh 02Another point, the paper newspaper, The San Diego Daily Transcript, uses a rubber band to keep it together. And there’s always the paper-free OB Rag internet model. But if you should get a plastic bag along the way, please recycle it.

When in doubt, ask the expert. In this case, Colleen Dietzel, owner of the Green Store and former member of the County of San Diego Plastic Recycling Task Force, provided the technical background.

Here’s her last word on the subject:

“Just because something is technically recyclable doesn’t mean we should still use it. The havoc plastic bags and other single use plastic containers have on our oceans and marine wildlife is devastating. It’s time people become aware of what we consider a convenience to us, has toxic effects on our wildlife, our planet and ultimately us”.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Avatar Posey July 9, 2015 at 11:00 am

Yeah Colleen! Some of us know you and the Green Store are the best thing for OB and beyond. On to the Plastic bag ban!!!

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