Cost of Recycling Plastic Bags? Up to $60,000/Month.

Comments

1
The false assumption is that bags made out of plastic will cease to exist under a bag ban. The ban does not apply to small businesses, not to mention garbage bags, ziplocks, sandwich bags, produce bags etc.
2
@ D: I don't think anyone has that false assumption (aka straw man). This is a ban that is targeting the main offenders. I don't think there's any rule that says a law has to completely and utterly fix a problem forever to be legal.
3
D,
You're right that the ban would only apply to stores with annual sales over $2 million and there would still be all kinds of plastic bags, like garbage bags, floating around. The draft of the city ordinance also exempts stores under 10,000 square feet.
4
I'm scrupulous about recycling plastic bags and take them all to the local grocery bin. Is this any better or just a drop in the ocean?
5
By far most of the plastic bags that come into my house do so because I still get home delivery of the Oregonian. Funny how the O never mentions that in its support of the ban.
6
Q. "I'm scrupulous about recycling plastic bags and take them all to the local grocery bin. Is this any better or just a drop in the ocean?"


A. HELL NO!!!
Or... actually... the article didn't adequately discuss that except to say that it takes 60,000 dollars to unjam a machine...as if that made any sense. All those 'unjam the machine' people and truck drivers are taxpaying people with jobs, right?
7
Commenty - no argument with you here - but my point being that (yet another) ban in Portland is about intentions versus results. And the 'offenders' are the same ones who banned paper 20 years ago.
8
Some cities require that stores charge 10-15 cents per bag. It creates an economic incentive to conserve them, and helps generate funds for the New World Order where Everyone Has To Ride Bikes Everywhere.

I mean, to recycle the problematic leftovers.

But yeah, I'd prefer that to an unfunded prohibitive measures like this (I assume it's unfunded anyway), but it wouldn't be the end of the world.
9
Bath Time and J Renaud,
Murray addresses that issue below the cut. If the place you're dropping the bags off at separates them out (like, you're going to New Seasons and placing them in the "plastic bag recycling" box) then yes, that helps the recyclers a lot. Sorting the plastic bags out from the rest of the recyclables is what gums up the machines and drives up labor costs.
10
Less than $2 million in annual sales is a surprisingly small business. That'd only return about $65,000 net income in the grocery business, with the standard 3% profit margin they're supposed to enjoy.

@Renaud - A quote in the article says that bringing your bags back to the grocery store makes it a lot easier on the recycling machine. So good job!

@Smirk - $60,000 a month to unjam his machine four times a day. So...how much would it cost to fix the damn machine? Sounds like there isn't anything intrinsically wrong with plastic bags, we just have a threshing machine that can't handle the stuff we need it to thresh. Don't we have ANY engineers left? Can we come up with something that doesn't jam every couple of hours?
11
Plastic bags (along with a number of other things) are not supposed to placed in curbside recycling boxes anyway.
http://www.oregonmetro.gov/index.cfm/go/by…
I think the real problem is lazy people who don't read.
12
On a slightly related note, take the tops off of plastic and glass bottles before recycling. They, like the plastic bags, can't go through machines not meant for them. The entire bottle just gets thrown away at the recycling facility if it still has a lid on it.
13
plastic shopping bags are completely unnecessary. humans managed to survive without them until the very recent past. there's no reason to produce more of these things.
14
yeah, what Beer Batter said. who the heck is putting them in the bins anyway?

also, yes to Jocie's comment! i hate seeing tops still on in recycle bins.
15
As mentioned above, plastic bags in the recycling bins is a no no. That said, a lot of people don't bother recycling their plastic bags at all because they don't take the time/effort to bring the bags to the recycling centers. I know many people who are typically fastidious about recycling that don't take the time to recycle plastic bags. While I know this piece is focusing on the financial setbacks of recycling plastic bags, I have to mention the environmental setbacks (& political) of making and recycling plastic bags. It takes 12 million barrels of oil to make the plastic bags used in the US each year, and many more to transport them to stores, then to recycling facilities (if they're recycled) for sorting, then possibly overseas for recycling, etc.
16
60,000 dollars isn't the cost of recycling plastic bags, it is the cost of putting plastic bags in the curbside bins, which, as beer batter pointed out, isn't where they are supposed to go. As has also been mentioned, there is actually a lot of shit that isn't supposed to go into those bins, some of which looks a lot like stuff that is supposed to go into the bins. As both Jocie and this post alluded to, it is counter-productive to fill the curbside bins indiscriminately, including putting in plastic bags.

Another noteworthy ramification of putting the plastic bags in the bin, according to the metro website, is that the majority of the work related injuries at these facilities occur while jams caused by plastic grocery bags are being fixed.
17
I just moved back home to pdx from San Francisco, where they implemented a plastic bag ban a couple years ago. We should be looking to those who have already done this and see how they have benefited. For me and all my friends it means that we have nylon grocery bags that weigh nothing and condense to smaller than the size of an egg in our purses and trunks.

Also, my family has a farm outside of Portland and we have biodegradable plastic bags that people can compost or throw in the trash. It may cost a couple cents more- but our future is worth it. Stop being lazy and care about yourselves America.
18
A verry nice and useful blog telling you something about all kinds of bags
19
A verry nice and useful blog telling you something about all kinds of bags.