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Did you know that the average American family uses 500 Ziploc bags every year? Odds are, the vast majority of these Ziploc bags are thrown away over time, contributing to the vast amount of plastic going into local landfills and incinerators. But did you know that Ziploc bags are actually recyclable? And in most communities, recycling them is a quick and easy task. We’re going to take a look at how to properly dispose of Ziploc bags, so you can do your part for keeping these useful (and reusable!) items out of landfills.
Why Should You Not Throw Ziploc Bags In The Trash?
Although Ziploc is actually a brand name created by SC Johnson, a “Ziploc bag” has morphed into a generic term for any self-sealing back that is used to store food and often an array of other small items. A Ziploc bag is known for its classic “zip” version, where you press together two interlocking pieces of plastic, but also include vacuum-sealed bags and those with a small tab running across the top of the bag to seal it closed. So, what makes these useful bags so dangerous when thrown in the trash or your regular recycling bin?
Recycle Nation tells us more about why Ziploc bags need to be disposed of properly:
“Ziploc bags (and other sandwich bags) are made with a product known as “film” in the recycling industry. Film is clear, thin plastic made of either low-density polyethylene (or LDPE, which corresponds to the recycling #4) or high-density polyethylene (or HDPE, which corresponds to the recycling #2). Most film is recycled into composite lumber, a highly durable building material that is used for decks, benches and playground equipment. The hardest thing about recycling film is keeping it in your recycling bin. Since the plastic is so lightweight it becomes airborne easily. When it flies out of trash cans and recycling bins it creates litter in neighborhoods and transfer stations — and usually ends up in the nearest dumpster. Loose Ziploc bags and other types of film plastic often get caught in recycling machinery, damaging equipment and causing downtime at recycling centers.”
How to Recycle Ziploc Bags
So, if you can’t throw Ziploc bags in your regular recycling bin, where can you dispose of them? It may surprise you to know that Ziploc bags can be recycled in the same way your plastic shopping bags are, which is another item that cannot be recycled in your regular recycling bin.
Brian McKechnie of GlobalNews.ca explains how you can safely recycle your Ziploc bags:
“No matter how hard you try to have a litterless lunch, sometimes you just need to use a plastic bag to put your sandwich or snacks in. The good (surprising) news – Ziploc bags can be recycled at grocery stores that accept plastic shopping bags. You can even mix the two together to make it easier when you do your next grocery shop (bread and newspaper bags can also be dropped off in these bins). The bags are used mostly to make composite lumber from companies like TimberTech and Trex, which is good for fence and deck building.”
When To Reuse Ziploc Bags
Many of us reuse our Ziploc bags, especially in the case of the larger, more durable freezer Ziploc bags. However, is it always safe to reuse them? In order to determine this, it’s important to think about what you kept in your Ziploc bag in the first place.
Michelle Debczak of MentalFloss.com tells us more about when it’s safe to reuse your Ziploc bag and when it should be properly disposed of after use:
“When deciding whether or not to keep a used Ziploc in your kitchen, think about what you used it for in the first place. If it was used to store or marinade raw meat, eggs, or seafood, you should toss it in the trash. These products can contain dangerous pathogens in their uncooked state, and no matter how well you scrub the bag afterwards, there’s no way to be sure you sanitized the bag completely. If you filled the bag with products that are safe to eat and touch as they are—like baked goods, clean produce, sandwiches, etc.—it should be safe to use a second time. This rule doesn’t apply to bags that have holes, tears, or look worn out in general.”
We offer a wide variety of waste disposal options, including how to properly dispose of Ziploc bags and plastic shopping bags, with services readily available online. Reach out to us to see what we can offer you.
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