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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?


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Recycling excess plastic shopping bags?
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wildturkeycanoe 9:43 pm 10 May 16

gooterz said :

I agree over-packaging is a problem but you can avoid it and make a point. I’ve told the managers in Aldis why I am not buying my fruit and veg there.

Start with not having breakfast in Macdonalds, nor any other meal, any other time.

I will never buy “fresh” fruit or veg from the other supermarkets when Aldi has the same things for a fraction of the price. Even the fresh food markets can’t beat Aldi for a lot of the products we buy. Cost is a big factor for many people and they won’t change to “environmentally friendly” packaged goods because they simply cannot afford to.
In terms of packaging, fast food is pretty good as most of it is cardboard and can be recycled. Were I to make hamburgers at home, there would be un-recyclable plastic from the frozen meat patties, add styrofoam for fresh ones, the cheese wrapping, the glad wrap found on the lebanese variety of cucumbers, the plastic from the bread buns and even the cos lettuce is wrapped in thin plastic. At Maccas you get one cardboard box to throw away, the local takeaways only a paper wrapping.
We had hot dogs last night and had plastic wrappers from the rolls, the sausages and the budget bacon, all destined for landfill because it isn’t recyclable. It isn’t the grocery carry bags that are the problem, it is the stuff around almost every food item you buy.

rubaiyat 11:41 am 10 May 16

Lurker2913 said :

JC said :

As for Maya’s one CT paper of rubbish a week, if you multiply that by 5 you end up with approximately a 56 Litre bin full of waste that cannot be composted, recycled or reused.

My kitchen garbage bin holds about 4 litres (I just went and filled it with water to measure it), so each CT bag holds about that. 4 x 5 is 20 litres.

You should try harder Maya, very unCanberran of you. 😀

rubaiyat 10:25 am 10 May 16

JC said :

BTW, try and get a pair of shoes, no matter how expensive, to last on the feet of a teenager for more than a few months. Then multiply that by three and see how many get tossed in the bin in a year.

I agree over-packaging is a problem but you can avoid it and make a point. I’ve told the managers in Aldis why I am not buying my fruit and veg there.

Start with not having breakfast in Macdonalds, nor any other meal, any other time.

Maya123 8:40 am 10 May 16

JC said :

As for Maya’s one CT paper of rubbish a week, if you multiply that by 5 you end up with approximately a 56 Litre bin full of waste that cannot be composted, recycled or reused.

My kitchen garbage bin holds about 4 litres (I just went and filled it with water to measure it), so each CT bag holds about that. 4 x 5 is 20 litres.

wildturkeycanoe 6:36 am 10 May 16

A_Cog said :

I think his point is that you shouldn’t put your recycling in plastic bags, but what your rubbish (i.e. destined for the green bin) is wrapped in is none of the recycler’s concern.

Thanks for that, at least somebody here is reading what I am saying instead of skimming over it with their preordained response pulling on the leash waiting to be released.
As for the citrus and onions, yes my compost is a worm farm and housing a large community of the little wrigglers. I am not going to kill them off and certainly not going to start up another heap. Newer Canberra properties are small enough already, so there isn’t a great deal of space to be setting up heaps for different kinds of recycling.
As for Maya’s one CT paper of rubbish a week, if you multiply that by 5 you end up with approximately a 56 Litre bin full of waste that cannot be composted, recycled or reused. Now as I explained, we are a family of 5 and do not have the privilege of abundant land to grow our own produce, so buying food that comes in bulk plastic wrapping is a necessity. Especially with young kids, who are choosy about their culinary tastes, we end up getting as lot of non-fresh produce which is excessively packaged. Very little of our rubbish bin waste can be put to other purposes, as even right now if I look in the bin it is mainly soft plastic packaging which cannot be recycled.
BTW, try and get a pair of shoes, no matter how expensive, to last on the feet of a teenager for more than a few months. Then multiply that by three and see how many get tossed in the bin in a year.

Maya123 9:39 pm 09 May 16

Bennop said :

Regarding the compostability of citrus peel and onions, I agree with Maya123 that they compost just fine. When I originally looked for an explanation for the view that they shouldn’t be composted, I found that it was on account of worms not liking them. I figured that since there were no worms in my compost heap anyway it was worth a go. I don’t however, add them to my worm farm.

I do have worms in my compost, and I compost citrus and onion. Not as many as a worm farm would have, but they are there.

Nightshade 6:30 pm 09 May 16

Regarding the compostability of citrus peel and onions, I agree with Maya123 that they compost just fine. When I originally looked for an explanation for the view that they shouldn’t be composted, I found that it was on account of worms not liking them. I figured that since there were no worms in my compost heap anyway it was worth a go. I don’t however, add them to my worm farm.

Nightshade 6:26 pm 09 May 16

Charlotte Harper said :

HenryBG said :

Maya123 said :

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.

What exactly are you going on about? Recyclers don’t care one iota about what your rubbish is wrapped in

Not according to the lady who gave me a tour of the recycling plant. She said that due to H&S issues, when someone placed their recycling in a bag, because of H&S it was not opened, so its contents were not recycled and instead were sent to landfill.

I think his point is that you shouldn’t put your recycling in plastic bags, but what your rubbish (i.e. destined for the green bin) is wrapped in is none of the recycler’s concern.

rubaiyat 10:42 am 09 May 16

HenryBG said :

Maya123 said :

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.

What exactly are you going on about? Recyclers don’t care one iota about what your rubbish is wrapped in, landfill items do not affect them.

They are even running ads asking you to not gift wrap your rubbish.

Supermarkets even sell special garbage disposal bags it has got this out of control.

Maya123 9:16 am 09 May 16

HenryBG said :

Maya123 said :

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.

What exactly are you going on about? Recyclers don’t care one iota about what your rubbish is wrapped in,]

Not according to the lady who gave me a tour of the recycling plant. She said that due to H&S issues, when someone placed their recycling in a bag, because of H&S it was not opened, so its contents were not recycled and instead were sent to landfill.

dustytrail 8:16 am 09 May 16

I have the cloth Woollies green bags that I have used for years. I buy the bags I use for “rubbish” and they go in the garbage bin. What I get annoyed about is all the “packaging” that comes with everything from a packet of biscuits, loaf of bread to the Poly Styrofoam and plastic wrapping that comes with everything you buy! You can’t put that in the recycle bin so it goes to landfill.

Mr Gillespie 7:21 am 09 May 16

Instead of continuing down the road of expensive shopping bags like other states seem to be doing now, might I suggest that shoppers no longer be required to pay for plastic bags or whatever else that is used to carry their shopping in?

When I commented on this issue and argued my case, all I got was loads and loads and loads of crap. Nonsense, jokes and a complete mockery. I am hoping to hear more intelligent responses this time, instead of the riff-raff about changing habits, bring your own, side-tracking the issue and all the other silly nonsense and idiocy that was sprouted last time.

Now.

I personally know of only one grocery store in the whole of this Simon Corbell communist establishment otherwise known as the ACT that offers customers a free option to carry their groceries in. The Ainslie IGA offers customers boxes to carry their groceries in. They are not charged for the use of these boxes. No other grocer seems willing or able to offer customers decent sized boxes (if at all) instead continuing to obstinately leave the bagging compartment in the self-serve kiosks bare and empty while the equivalent location in NSW grocery shops have bags.

Is it because grocery shops are addicted to selling customers their own branded shopping bags? Are grocery proprietors not bothered with biodegradeable shopping bags or are these bags more expensive than the ones Simon Corbell banned in 2011?

wildturkeycanoe 6:41 am 09 May 16

Maya123 said :

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.

What exactly are you going on about? Recyclers don’t care one iota about what your rubbish is wrapped in, landfill items do not affect them. I never said I wrap any recycling in plastic bags, only what is going to landfill in the big green bin. What about that makes recycling or composting impossible? The items that go into it are also not biodegradable, recyclable or suitable for compost. What else do you suggest I and every other Canberran do with the stuff? I do not understand your point whatsoever.
From the Planet ark website – “Soft plastics means more than just plastic shopping bags – anything from bread bags to pasta packets and biscuit trays. These should never go in your home recycling bin, as they can’t be processed though most kerbside recycling collections.”
As for the non-recyclable plastic bags, I have said it before a long time ago, I have witnessed the total destruction of one of these bags in less than 24 hours by a mob of meat ants, after leaving it on the bank of a lake with a pest fish inside. They composted the plastic into such tiny pieces and carried it away so that nothing was left but the bones.
If these bags are such a menace, why have the government not banned the production of them in all states and for all manufacturing purposes, then replaced them with biodegradable alternatives? Until that happens, we have no choice but to buy our products that are double or triple wrapped in this material and send the remains into landfill. What alternative do you suggest? [And no, I am not going to try and buy only products that are wrapped in recyclable materials, because life has already dictated so much of our meal choices by price, public calamity over nut and other allergies and our own taste buds decide what is the best value for money.]

Kalliste 9:14 pm 08 May 16

chewy14 said :

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.

You could always just do online shopping where you end up with more bags than you know what to do with.

madelini said :

Paper bags may use more resources but they do decompose.

They also are less convenient (no/crap handles, can’t take as much weight, rip). I don’t know why it’s so hard just to take a re-usable material bag to the shops. I have one stashed in my bag most of the time and rarely ever have to buy plastic ones.

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