An Update on Plastic Bag Recycling from Dan in Facilities

  | News, Sustainability

Daniel, our Facilities Manager, recently responded to a Shareholder who asked when our plastic bag recycling bin, which used to be in our exitway before the pandemic hit. We know MANY of our Shareholders and customers care deeply about the issue of plastics, so we’ve published his response here:

Locally, there is no avenue for recycling plastic film. Our regular streams (such as WSWMD) do not accept plastic film into their comingled recycling stream because of the specialized equipment they use to segregate the different types of plastic/glass/paper into the raw material for recycling. The plastic film basically gums up the gears. Sorting it out by hand is not economical for them (or anyone else). That’s where our previous system had come into play. IF the plastic film is separated out into its own stream of un-soiled plastic and is collected in large enough quantities, the current economics of recycling have a path to recycling for it.
In our specific case, one of our grocery distributors ran a side business of backhauling plastic film from grocery stores and trucking it back to Pennsylvania, where there was someone who would buy it, recycle it, and sell it along. It was their way of trying to monetize the empty trucks returning from their routes. I’m not exactly clear on if the decision to stop backhauling it comes from the distributor, or if the processor they sold it to stopped accepting it. Either way, they politely told us a few months back that they would no longer be accepting it and that’s where we are today.
I have spent some time trying to find a similar arrangement with someone else but haven’t turned up any leads. The commodities market for recycling materials has always been very volatile and not something I completely understand.
As soon as something else comes along, we’ll jump on it.
Thank you for being such a caring bunch of cooperative shoppers. And if you know of any way to help with this issue, don’t hesitate to get in touch!
– The Brattleboro Food Co-op