As I'm out and about, I often have people tell me that they recycle all of their plastic shopping bags by putting them in the curbside recycling bins. It's clear that many people don't know that not one residential curbside program in the Charlotte metro region accepts plastic bags of any size or shape in their recycling bins or at their full service facilities. The one exception is in the city of Rock Hill where you can put plastic bags in your roll out bin. Elsewhere, if you put them in the bin, the bags will be thrown in the trash. The bags clog machinery used in recycling centers; generating more trouble than money. So, here’s what you can do. Take the plastic shopping bags back to the grocery store to reuse or deposit them in the plastic bag-recycling bin offered by the store. The stores ship the bags to qualified plastic recycling centers that produce new bags.
Another question I get is whether or not plastic will ever break down once it gets to the landfill. It’s very unlikely. There is very little oxygen or moisture inside a landfill, both necessary components of decomposition. It’s bacteria in the landfill that does the work of decomposition and it prefers non-synthetic, natural materials. Self-advertised ‘bio-degradable’ plastic bags will break down in an active compost pile but are unlikely to break down in modern day landfills.
Plastic bottle caps are also not accepted in your curbside bins. There have been a number of hoaxes centered on collecting plastic bottle caps to help sick or disabled children. This leaves many do-gooders stuck holding bags of plastic caps with nowhere to recycle them.
Aveda, a manufacturer of beauty products, launched a program to collect rigid plastic caps to recycle into new caps and containers for their products. They accept most caps but not all, including prescription drug caps. They do not, however, pay for the lids so there is no fundraising component. To find out which caps are accepted and where their retail stores or participating salons are located, visit www.aveda.com.
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Keep the questions coming and keep treading lightly!