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Rethinking The Plastic Bag

Despite increasing awareness efforts on the need to recycle plastic bags, it is estimated the U.S. uses over 89 billion plastic bags, sacks and wraps each year with a dismal 12 percent recycle rate. Hilex Poly is one of the leading plastic bag manufacturers in North America, collecting more than 100 million pounds of plastic for recycling purposes each year. The company is now attempting to execute their eco-objective of transforming traditional cultural norms by educating retailers of the detrimental impact using white plastic bags entail. The underlying problem with using white plastic bags is the simple fact white bags can only contain and utilize 10 percent of recycled content. Using a blue plastic bag may contain as much as 35 percent of recycled material, with gray plastic bags containing up to 40 percent of recycled matter. Phil Rozenski, the director of sustainability and marketing for Hilex Poly, believes the reason why companies fail to use colored plastic bags is a direct result of marketing. Restaurants, grocery stores and pharmacies all contribute to the white bag problem by not switching to an eco-friendly color for branding purposes. Perhaps the greatest obstacle the U.S. plastic recycling industry faces is simply collecting enough material to meet demand. Last year the U.S. collected 880 million pounds of material, with Hilex Poly collecting a total of 11 percent of the 880 million pounds alone. One positive outlook we must recognize is the reuse rates for plastic bags in the U.S. Americans last year reused 48-60 percent of their bags as bin liners or for pet waste removal. Although it is great for the environment to reuse plastic bags, these bags fail to ever see the light in a recycling center. To help with this green effort, customers may purchase reusable grocery bags made out of recycled material for a small cost. Another option would be to simply save and collect all of your plastic bags and recycle them at your local grocery store on your next visit. By recycling and refusing to use plastic bags, people of all ages, shapes and sizes can significantly reduce plastic consumption resulting in a greener and environmentally friendly planet.
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