Skip to content Skip to main navigation

Opinion

Expert strata, facilities & building management services

Recycling excess plastic shopping bags?

By Chris Mordd Richards - 6 May 2016 34

plastic-bag-stock

With an election coming up (and the last article on this in 2014 on RA not yielding many decent suggestions) I thought this might be a good time to talk again about plastic bag recycling in the ACT.

A few years ago, we made the move to ban the old style non-decompostable plastic bags and rightly so, and we replaced them with a much better product that doesn’t last as long in the environment, and we coupled this with a 10-15c fee per bag (depending on where you go) so that people would think more about wether they needed it or not. All good so far.

However like many Canberrans, I still forget to take my bags a lot of the time for various reasons, and so over the past few years built up a nice collection of those 10-15c shopping bags in my kitchen.

Finally I decided I needed to do something about the growing pile, but to my dismay there seemed to be no easy way to recycle the bags. So $10 worth of clean, usable shopping bags went in the trash as I had no use for that many, and the local salvos store said they do not accept donations of bags anymore, they have more than enough (which one was of the few try-able suggestions from the 2014 RA article).

Can we not mandate that all supermarkets or large outlet stores (I’m thinking Coles, Woolies, IGA, Aldi, Kmart, Big W, Target, Bunnings, etc.) have compulsory bag collection points for recycling these excess plastic bags? Apparently recycling the modern ones we use now is a lot more doable than with the old ones, so what we seem to be simply lacking is a proper collection scheme so that Canberrans can easily recycle the ones they don’t need.

Can we make this happen in 2016 and finally rest easy that we aren’t still sending plastic bags to landfill for no good reason?

What’s Your opinion?


Post a comment
Please login to post your comments, or connect with
34 Responses to
Recycling excess plastic shopping bags?
rubaiyat 10:46 am 08 May 16

Maya123 said :

Richie said :

dungfungus said :

Bring them to my place. We use plastic shopping bags for all kinds of things in our home. Things like spoiled food before dumping into the kitchen tidy bin, wet clothes for kid’s swimming events, for putting fish into on the rare occasion I actually catch something, covering the openings of gumboots in the shed to prevent spiders crawling in and making a home, lining the bins in the bathroom and toilets, to use for rubbish bags when camping and a whole heap more. They aren’t useless items and we use more than my family from N.S.W can provide us with.
Yes they are going to landfill, but they keep the dirty rubbish enclosed till it reaches there. It also saves us a lot of money as we don’t have to go and buy rolls of small bin tidy bags, which I dare say are just as bad for the environment and cost a whole lot more.

Perhaps consider your rubbish consumption. That spoiled food costs you money. If you have food to spoil you are buying excess food just to throw away. Buy only the food you use; not extra food for the bin. Get a compost bin. Bags for covering the openings of gumboots and the like can be used over and over, for years, so don’t need to be replaced very often. When I was a kid I had a cool swimming bag that lasted for years. There was no need for disposable plastic bags for wet swimming costumes. As an adult I wrap the wet clothes in a towel. There is something very extravagant and wasteful about your lifestyle if you produce so much rubbish. It sounds like you hunt and invent ways to use up plastic bags. When I first began to read what you wrote I though you were being sarcastic to have a go at wasteful lifestyles, but as I read on I was agog to realise you were serious. Most weeks I have no more need than one Canberra Times wrapper to hold all that week’s rubbish…and I’m not even trying.

Wow, reprimanded for trying to find ways to make something un-recyclable useful.
The spoiled food scenario – Do you waste time and money going to the shops every day? Every second day? We do a weekly shop to save all that time and fuel. In doing so, inevitably you end up with something that goes off because your weekly plan has changed due to unforeseen circumstance, or something in the fridge gets opened, used once and put back in the corner. Salad dressings, mayonnaise, mustard or tomato paste for example. Other things you might only need a few hundred grams of but they only sell in one kilo bunches.Often you get items that go out of date before the label indicates or before you get to use them, that isn’t necessarily avoidable as you just don’t know how good some products are out of the bag/tin/box.
As for leftovers, we have chickens and a compost heap, both of which get most of the leftovers. Some things you will know yourself, if you do your research, can’t be composted [some fruits like citrus for eg.] and the chooks won’t eat leftover prawns and many other foods.
So you want my kids to carry TWO bags to swimming carnivals, instead of putting the wet stuff in a plastic bag and then into the one backpack? Talk about making things hard for them. That once a year event uses up one plastic bag which goes to landfill. Not exactly a huge concern.
I might look for ways to use plastic bags, but that is not as bad a thing as you make it out to be because they are being made useful before ending up in landfill.
What about the trash going into the Sulo out front, should everyone stop using 58L rubbish bags for the same reasons you say here, because they are wasteful? No way, I am not going to be scrubbing my bin every week to get rid of the gunk in the bottom. Imagine the bin inside the house, without a liner. what a mess it’d be to clean up. Then we end up buying cleaning products, paper towels, scrubbing brushes. Then we waste water by using it to clean out, hose off and rinse the bins and all the cleaning products.
I am sorry, your high horse attitude won’t rock this camp, plastic bags are not the evil force you make them out to be.
I find it hard to believe that you only end up with a Canberra Times wrapper of rubbish at the end of a week. Are you talking only about non-recyclable rubbish or the lot? Does your meat come in a plastic wrap bag, or a styrofoam tray with plastic on top? None of that is recyclable. Does your fruit come in plastic bags, a plastic net, a plastic tray or little plastic tubs? None of these are recyclable. What of your bread loaves, cheese slices, bacon, potatoes, fruit tails, LCM bars, Muesli bars, breakfast cereals, biscuits, yoghurt. Nearly all these items come in non-recyclable plastic wrap, some also inside cardboard boxes too. Our recycle bin is full every fortnight, sometimes not all fits in.
My partner’s Lite-n-easy meals are ALL in bio-degradable plastic bags intended for landfill. Do you want us to dispose of them properly, or toss them to recycling for the government to spend more tax money sorting out the good from the bad?
You may indeed somehow be able to go to the store every day, buy a very select few items that do not come wrapped in anything at all [it’d be a very narrow selection], but feeding a hungry, growing family of five does not leave a newspaper fold of rubbish at the end of the week. One simple barbecue for example, leaves the barbecue wipes [I wouldn’t throw greasy, fat covered wipes into a recycle bin], probably three or four styrofoam trays from the packaged meat, the plastic wrap covering them, The plastic from the bread bag, carrots, lettuce, capsicum and cucumber. The onion peel can’t be composted, the salad dressing will go off before it is used again [some say to consume within 7 days after opening] and eventually you end up with recyclables from the sauce bottles, margarine container, seasoning bottle, and whatever containers your beverages come in. What do you do with your wooden skewers from the kebabs? Recommendations are to wrap them in paper and put them in the trash. Now you’ve just thrown into land-fill a recyclable product as well!
A newspaper fold of rubbish – HA! One meal in most houses would overload your disposal method.
Fine, if you are cooking for one person it might be possible, but more and more wrapping is put around goods these days compared to the past, to the detriment of our waste services.
Are sanitary napkins included in your fold of paper? Makeup removal wipes, used razor blades, used tissues, orange peels, cooked chicken bones, fish bones, old dish cloths, doggy poop bags, nappies, dirty rags from maintaining the car engine, old torn socks, old worn out shoes, bones the dog hasn’t chewed up and the stuff that comes out of your vacuum cleaner bag or the washing machine lint filter?

As for the REDcycle program, I hadn’t heard of it but the nearest bin is over 10km away and not where I usually shop. If we are talking about being environmentally friendly, the damage to the environment by me driving there to drop off a Coles bag full of plastic would negate the savings made from me doing so. Also, do you know if your plastic bag is biodegradable or not? REDcycle cannot reuse biodegradable bags, so then we have the complexities of finding out whether or not our bag goes into REDcycle, recycle or the trash. Determining if a product is or isn’t, leaves you sitting there scratching your head as a lot of it just doesn’t say. The recycle ? symbols with number in the middle make it very confusing unless you’ve researched it. Then you have things like the foil packaging inside Shapes boxes, that house your CCs and Smiths Crisps. They say to “dispose of package thoughtfully” but do not have any recycling marks, so they will end up in landfill. Do these also fit into your newspaper wrapper?

Inevitably there are things you just can’t recycle, compost or toss to the animals. Some people create more, others less. We have a rubbish and separate recycle bin in the kitchen, a bucket for chicken scraps, a bucket for compost materials and then the bins in the bathrooms/toilets. We reduce what we can, but inevitably there is stuff that goes into the landfill bin. Being lambasted for reusing shopping bags as much as possible by a stranger who makes assumptions without any facts is simply an ego trip. I applaud your efforts to minimise, but dismiss your comparison of waste output as total rubbish.

Go ahead. Ignore that the recyclers are begging you NOT to wrap your rubbish in mostly indestructible plastic bags that contrary to popular myth do not break down except to ever smaller pieces of plastic and ultimately end up as straight pollution somewhere and make composting and real recycling almost impossible.

wildturkeycanoe 9:05 am 08 May 16

Richie said :

dungfungus said :

Bring them to my place. We use plastic shopping bags for all kinds of things in our home. Things like spoiled food before dumping into the kitchen tidy bin, wet clothes for kid’s swimming events, for putting fish into on the rare occasion I actually catch something, covering the openings of gumboots in the shed to prevent spiders crawling in and making a home, lining the bins in the bathroom and toilets, to use for rubbish bags when camping and a whole heap more. They aren’t useless items and we use more than my family from N.S.W can provide us with.
Yes they are going to landfill, but they keep the dirty rubbish enclosed till it reaches there. It also saves us a lot of money as we don’t have to go and buy rolls of small bin tidy bags, which I dare say are just as bad for the environment and cost a whole lot more.

Perhaps consider your rubbish consumption. That spoiled food costs you money. If you have food to spoil you are buying excess food just to throw away. Buy only the food you use; not extra food for the bin. Get a compost bin. Bags for covering the openings of gumboots and the like can be used over and over, for years, so don’t need to be replaced very often. When I was a kid I had a cool swimming bag that lasted for years. There was no need for disposable plastic bags for wet swimming costumes. As an adult I wrap the wet clothes in a towel. There is something very extravagant and wasteful about your lifestyle if you produce so much rubbish. It sounds like you hunt and invent ways to use up plastic bags. When I first began to read what you wrote I though you were being sarcastic to have a go at wasteful lifestyles, but as I read on I was agog to realise you were serious. Most weeks I have no more need than one Canberra Times wrapper to hold all that week’s rubbish…and I’m not even trying.

Wow, reprimanded for trying to find ways to make something un-recyclable useful.
The spoiled food scenario – Do you waste time and money going to the shops every day? Every second day? We do a weekly shop to save all that time and fuel. In doing so, inevitably you end up with something that goes off because your weekly plan has changed due to unforeseen circumstance, or something in the fridge gets opened, used once and put back in the corner. Salad dressings, mayonnaise, mustard or tomato paste for example. Other things you might only need a few hundred grams of but they only sell in one kilo bunches.Often you get items that go out of date before the label indicates or before you get to use them, that isn’t necessarily avoidable as you just don’t know how good some products are out of the bag/tin/box.
As for leftovers, we have chickens and a compost heap, both of which get most of the leftovers. Some things you will know yourself, if you do your research, can’t be composted [some fruits like citrus for eg.] and the chooks won’t eat leftover prawns and many other foods.
So you want my kids to carry TWO bags to swimming carnivals, instead of putting the wet stuff in a plastic bag and then into the one backpack? Talk about making things hard for them. That once a year event uses up one plastic bag which goes to landfill. Not exactly a huge concern.
I might look for ways to use plastic bags, but that is not as bad a thing as you make it out to be because they are being made useful before ending up in landfill.
What about the trash going into the Sulo out front, should everyone stop using 58L rubbish bags for the same reasons you say here, because they are wasteful? No way, I am not going to be scrubbing my bin every week to get rid of the gunk in the bottom. Imagine the bin inside the house, without a liner. what a mess it’d be to clean up. Then we end up buying cleaning products, paper towels, scrubbing brushes. Then we waste water by using it to clean out, hose off and rinse the bins and all the cleaning products.
I am sorry, your high horse attitude won’t rock this camp, plastic bags are not the evil force you make them out to be.
I find it hard to believe that you only end up with a Canberra Times wrapper of rubbish at the end of a week. Are you talking only about non-recyclable rubbish or the lot? Does your meat come in a plastic wrap bag, or a styrofoam tray with plastic on top? None of that is recyclable. Does your fruit come in plastic bags, a plastic net, a plastic tray or little plastic tubs? None of these are recyclable. What of your bread loaves, cheese slices, bacon, potatoes, fruit tails, LCM bars, Muesli bars, breakfast cereals, biscuits, yoghurt. Nearly all these items come in non-recyclable plastic wrap, some also inside cardboard boxes too. Our recycle bin is full every fortnight, sometimes not all fits in.
My partner’s Lite-n-easy meals are ALL in bio-degradable plastic bags intended for landfill. Do you want us to dispose of them properly, or toss them to recycling for the government to spend more tax money sorting out the good from the bad?
You may indeed somehow be able to go to the store every day, buy a very select few items that do not come wrapped in anything at all [it’d be a very narrow selection], but feeding a hungry, growing family of five does not leave a newspaper fold of rubbish at the end of the week. One simple barbecue for example, leaves the barbecue wipes [I wouldn’t throw greasy, fat covered wipes into a recycle bin], probably three or four styrofoam trays from the packaged meat, the plastic wrap covering them, The plastic from the bread bag, carrots, lettuce, capsicum and cucumber. The onion peel can’t be composted, the salad dressing will go off before it is used again [some say to consume within 7 days after opening] and eventually you end up with recyclables from the sauce bottles, margarine container, seasoning bottle, and whatever containers your beverages come in. What do you do with your wooden skewers from the kebabs? Recommendations are to wrap them in paper and put them in the trash. Now you’ve just thrown into land-fill a recyclable product as well!
A newspaper fold of rubbish – HA! One meal in most houses would overload your disposal method.
Fine, if you are cooking for one person it might be possible, but more and more wrapping is put around goods these days compared to the past, to the detriment of our waste services.
Are sanitary napkins included in your fold of paper? Makeup removal wipes, used razor blades, used tissues, orange peels, cooked chicken bones, fish bones, old dish cloths, doggy poop bags, nappies, dirty rags from maintaining the car engine, old torn socks, old worn out shoes, bones the dog hasn’t chewed up and the stuff that comes out of your vacuum cleaner bag or the washing machine lint filter?

As for the REDcycle program, I hadn’t heard of it but the nearest bin is over 10km away and not where I usually shop. If we are talking about being environmentally friendly, the damage to the environment by me driving there to drop off a Coles bag full of plastic would negate the savings made from me doing so. Also, do you know if your plastic bag is biodegradable or not? REDcycle cannot reuse biodegradable bags, so then we have the complexities of finding out whether or not our bag goes into REDcycle, recycle or the trash. Determining if a product is or isn’t, leaves you sitting there scratching your head as a lot of it just doesn’t say. The recycle ? symbols with number in the middle make it very confusing unless you’ve researched it. Then you have things like the foil packaging inside Shapes boxes, that house your CCs and Smiths Crisps. They say to “dispose of package thoughtfully” but do not have any recycling marks, so they will end up in landfill. Do these also fit into your newspaper wrapper?

Inevitably there are things you just can’t recycle, compost or toss to the animals. Some people create more, others less. We have a rubbish and separate recycle bin in the kitchen, a bucket for chicken scraps, a bucket for compost materials and then the bins in the bathrooms/toilets. We reduce what we can, but inevitably there is stuff that goes into the landfill bin. Being lambasted for reusing shopping bags as much as possible by a stranger who makes assumptions without any facts is simply an ego trip. I applaud your efforts to minimise, but dismiss your comparison of waste output as total rubbish.

Nilrem 8:05 am 08 May 16

Ezy said :

You can already do this in Canberra. Multiple Coles outlets here have ‘redcycle’ bins for for plastic bags and films. There is a store locator at http://redcycle.net.au/redcycle/locator that even lets you find the stores with bins closest to your postcode.

This is fantastic. Our waste to landfill will now be almost zero! Now if only all this recycling could integrated. And a green waste wheelie bin would be nice…

No_Nose 7:28 am 08 May 16

dungfungus said :

They aren’t useless items and we use more than my family from N.S.W can provide us with.

My brother from Queensland once sent me about 100 bags for Xmas as a joke. I actually thought it was a great present!

When I shop locally I never have to buy bags as I always have a supply of re-useable bags in the car. (I assume my wife puts them there, I’ve never put any in the car but there always seems to be about ten in the back)

I find though that plastic shopping bags are incredibly useful, particularly for picking up after the dogs and as bin liners. Just on those two tasks I reckon I would use at least seven a week. There are a few other tasks that I also use them for, usually getting about four-six uses before that particular bag gets converted to a bin or poo bag.

Whenever I happen to shop over the border I alway use the self serve checkouts and do one item-one plastic bag and usually try to stuff a dozen or so empty bags in as well just so I can stock up.

crackerpants 6:27 am 08 May 16

Take them to you nearest childcare centre – they always need plastic bags for sending home wet/soiled clothing.

Maya123 11:38 pm 07 May 16

Masquara said :

. Agree wasting food is bad, but the supermarkets encourage it with thebuy one get one free specials they love, it’s easy to accidentally end up with to much even when your intentions are good.

That’s what the freezer on the fridge is for. Freezing excess food to use later, so it doesn’t get wasted. Otherwise, it’s a false investment.

Mordd 9:33 pm 07 May 16

Interesting, I will keep you in mind next time turkey, although just recylcing them at Coles is probably easier. Agree wasting food is bad, but the supermarkets encourage it with thebuy one get one free specials they love, it’s easy to accidentally end up with to much even when your intentions are good.

Maya123 9:44 am 07 May 16

dungfungus said :

Bring them to my place. We use plastic shopping bags for all kinds of things in our home. Things like spoiled food before dumping into the kitchen tidy bin, wet clothes for kid’s swimming events, for putting fish into on the rare occasion I actually catch something, covering the openings of gumboots in the shed to prevent spiders crawling in and making a home, lining the bins in the bathroom and toilets, to use for rubbish bags when camping and a whole heap more. They aren’t useless items and we use more than my family from N.S.W can provide us with.
Yes they are going to landfill, but they keep the dirty rubbish enclosed till it reaches there. It also saves us a lot of money as we don’t have to go and buy rolls of small bin tidy bags, which I dare say are just as bad for the environment and cost a whole lot more.

Perhaps consider your rubbish consumption. That spoiled food costs you money. If you have food to spoil you are buying excess food just to throw away. Buy only the food you use; not extra food for the bin. Get a compost bin. Bags for covering the openings of gumboots and the like can be used over and over, for years, so don’t need to be replaced very often. When I was a kid I had a cool swimming bag that lasted for years. There was no need for disposable plastic bags for wet swimming costumes. As an adult I wrap the wet clothes in a towel. There is something very extravagant and wasteful about your lifestyle if you produce so much rubbish. It sounds like you hunt and invent ways to use up plastic bags. When I first began to read what you wrote I though you were being sarcastic to have a go at wasteful lifestyles, but as I read on I was agog to realise you were serious. Most weeks I have no more need than one Canberra Times wrapper to hold all that week’s rubbish…and I’m not even trying.

wildturkeycanoe 6:17 am 07 May 16

Bring them to my place. We use plastic shopping bags for all kinds of things in our home. Things like spoiled food before dumping into the kitchen tidy bin, wet clothes for kid’s swimming events, for putting fish into on the rare occasion I actually catch something, covering the openings of gumboots in the shed to prevent spiders crawling in and making a home, lining the bins in the bathroom and toilets, to use for rubbish bags when camping and a whole heap more. They aren’t useless items and we use more than my family from N.S.W can provide us with.
Yes they are going to landfill, but they keep the dirty rubbish enclosed till it reaches there. It also saves us a lot of money as we don’t have to go and buy rolls of small bin tidy bags, which I dare say are just as bad for the environment and cost a whole lot more.

Mordd 10:58 pm 06 May 16

Ok awesome, much more productive answer this time than the article from 2 years ago.

So http://redcycle.net.au/redcycle/locator is awesome, I wonder why I couldn’t find that in google when I tried searching for this originally.

Will have to check those Coles stores, I normally shop at Woolies which is why I guess I wasn’t aware that Coles had them, but I will check those stores and make sure they do indeed have it out the front.

Would still like to see legislation requiring all big retail stores to have this though, shouldn’t be only Coles in Canberra carrying the bag on this (pun intended).

PrinceOfAles 9:11 pm 06 May 16

What would Ricky Starr do?

Maya123 7:42 pm 06 May 16

Fortunately I hardly ever get excess bags. I figure if I can remember to take my purse with me shopping I can remember to take my cloth bags with me to hold the shopping. I have not routinely taken the plastic bags in supermarkets for about thirty years. I also hardly ever use the smaller plastic bags for fruit either. I place them loose in a cloth bag. The Canberra Times plastic wrapper makes a wonderful bin liner by the way, so no need for the supermarket bags.
…um, now I think about it, I do get more Canberra Times plastic wrappers than I can use. Most weeks I only need one newspaper wrapper to hold the weeks rubbish. So I could do with somewhere to recycle these. But supermarket bags…no!

Tenpoints 2:15 pm 06 May 16

There’s a program called redcycle that’s been going for a few years which takes plastic bags and lots of soft plastics including:
? Bread bags
? Biscuit packets
? Frozen food bags
? Rice and pasta Bags
? Confectionery packets
? Cereal Box Liners
? Newspaper wrap
? Plastic shopping bags
? Old green bags

There are selected (not all) Coles supermarkets around Canberra which you can take these materials. There’s a curvy looking green bin, usually in front or to the side of the registers.
Apparently there’s some Woolworths stores that have the redcycle bin, but none anywhere near Canberra as far as the website shows.

pajs 1:49 pm 06 May 16

You can already do this in Canberra. Multiple Coles outlets here have ‘redcycle’ bins for for plastic bags and films. There is a store locator at http://redcycle.net.au/redcycle/locator that even lets you find the stores with bins closest to your postcode.

Kath 1:35 pm 06 May 16

This site shows places you can drop your bags and soft plastics into a REDcycle’ bin: http://redcycle.net.au/redcycle/locator

I’m sure I’ve seen plastic bag recycling in other supermarkets that aren’t shown, though.

1 2 3

Related Articles

CBR Tweets

Sign up to our newsletter

Top
Copyright © 2017 Riot ACT Holdings Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.
www.the-riotact.com | www.b2bmagazine.com.au | www.thisiscanberra.com

Search across the site