Why you should recycle plastic grocery bags

Why you should recycle plastic grocery bags
FILE -- This Aug. 3, 2009 photo shows clerk Allison Ure lifting groceries she's bagged in a plastic sack at the M Street Grocery in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

EUGENE, Ore.- Plastic bags are an easy convenience for shoppers.

Recycling them is easy, too: The problem is most people don't know the proper way to do it.

"They are very recyclable," Sarah Grimm, a waste reduction specialist for Lane County Waste Management said. "They are marketed on international commodities markets to plastics manufacturers who need recycled content in their products."

Last year Lane County recycled 44.5 tons of plastic bags. They were sold to recycling companies based on quality and color. But the county says recycling is down. So far this year only 19.74 tons of plastic bags have been recycled.

Grimm said the bags get a bad reputation because they are not sustainable.

"They are an example of an unsustainable system," Grimm said. "We are so used to having the convenience of disposable products, that is basically using something and getting rid of it and we are running out of resources."

Many people don't know the only way to recycle plastic bags is to put them in a collection box specifically for plastic bags.

Terrie Brooks and Lisa Anderson of Eugene said they don't recycle their plastic bags but do reuse them.

"No we don't put them in the recycling bin," Brooks says.

"I do, when we don't use them," Anderson responded.

Most people don't know that plastic bags put in your curbside recycling or the garbage end up in the landfill.

The bags damage the sorting equipment and get wrapped around the machine.

Grimm said the best place to recycle plastic bags is at waste county collection centers as well as most grocery stores.