Spring has officially arrived, whether it feels like it or not, and Earth Day is just around the corner! The focus of this Earth Day, on April 22, 2018, is to End Plastic Pollution. One significant source of plastic pollution is plastic film. Plastic films are used in almost every industry throughout the United States because they are easy to manufacture, lightweight, and inexpensive. Examples include retail, newspaper, dry cleaning, food storage bags, electronic wrap, and bubble wrap, to name a few.
The United States EPA has estimated that the U.S. uses over 380 billion plastic bags per year, and only about 5% of plastic is recycled. The rest ends up either in landfills or the environment. Typically, plastic accumulates on land and then is transported to lakes and oceans through storm sewers and rivers. As such, plastic films are a major cause of pollution for bodies of water around the world.
The good news is that you can help! Environmentally conscious residents should first try to reduce the amount of plastic film they use—consider using reusable bags! Second, reuse plastic film when it is unavoidable. Third—don’t forget to recycle! Most clean, dry plastic films can be recycled into composite lumber for decks, benches and playground sets, containers, pipe, and more!
Plastic film cannot be recycled in curbside bins, but there are designated drop-off points at your local grocery stores, retail stores, and municipal recycling centers. For more information on what types of plastic films are recyclable or to find a drop-off location near you, visit plasticfilmrecycling.org.
About the Author
Maureen A. Schneider
Maureen is passionate about finding effective, efficient, and environmentally sustainable solutions to engineering problems. She has experience in the development of storm water management plans, stream restoration projects, regulatory permit processes, agricultural pollutant reduction program implementation, and other storm water quality improvement projects. Maureen has been with Ruekert & Mielke, Inc. since 2017.