Green Store Packaging
Recycle Shopping Bags
The Progressive Bag Alliance has
developed this information to help make it easier for retailers of all sizes
to implement at-store plastic bag recycling programs and facilitate the
recovery of clean, dry grocery and retail carryout bags, as well as other
polyethylene films. This toolkit
provides retailers with a step-by-step process to implement an at-store
plastic bag recycling program including: instructions on required bag
language, setting up collections bins, signage, bag consolidation, sale of
material, and consumer education.
Benefits of Plastic
Bags and Plastic Bag Recycling:
Plastic carryout bags, which can be made strong enough to hold up to 25 pounds
of goods, reduce the need for double bagging
Plastic carryout bags are water resistant and ideal for sports, travel and
Thanks to advances in resins, today's plastic bags use 25 percent less
material than bags made in 1987, without compromising strength
Plastic bags are recycled into such products as plastic lumber, new plastic
bags, trash-can liners, flower pots and drain pipes
Plastic lumber, made with recycled plastic, holds nails and screws better than
wood, is virtually maintenance free and lasts for 50 years
number of plastics recycling businesses has nearly tripled over the past
several years, with more than 1,700 businesses handling and reclaiming
post-consumer plastics recycling industry provides jobs for more than 52,000
If you need assistance in
setting up this program, we suggest that you contact your plastic bag
manufacturer/supplier or distributor for additional help. AB 2449 requires the
“the manufacturer of plastic carryout bags shall develop educational materials
to encourage the reducing, reusing and recycling of plastic bags and shall
make those materials available to stores required to comply with this
BAG PRINTING, COLLECTION, AND CONSOLIDATION
As of July 1, 2007, all plastic carryout bags
being used in the stores are required to include the following language
printed on each bag:
“PLEASE RETURN TO A PARTICIPATING STORE FOR
The above language is required to be displayed
on the bag in a manner visible to a consumer and in all capital letters. To
achieve proper visibility, it is recommended that the above language be
printed in at least 24 point font size in a prominent place on the bag where
customers can clearly see the message, such as the top of the bag. To support
the public education intent of the law, it is suggested that the above phrase
not be printed in the gusset of the bag.
Setting Up Collection Bins
The first step in setting up bag collection
bins is to determine the size, location and type of collection bin you need.
It is important to obtain and use bins that deter contamination. Good signage
is key. Make sure that the bin mouth has limited access, but is not too small,
and that consumers are able to read the sign and recognize that the bin is for
bags only – not garbage. It is good to place the signage close to the bin
opening and use transparent bins to help with quality control.
The bins should be placed in a visible area of
your store – preferably near the front entrance. Be sure to keep in mind that
the bins need to be durable enough to withstand ongoing floor cleaning in a
high-traffic area, and that bins should be placed in protected areas unless
they are designed to be placed outdoors.
Choosing a Bin
Retailers have a variety of options when
deciding on the type of bin to use. Regardless of the bin used, a plastic can
liner must be utilized. In all cases, the collected
film can be recycled in a clear bag. Bagged films can be easily handled for
loading or unloading during transfer or baling activities.
Examples of Bin Options Include:
Rubbermaid offers Plaza Containers that can be used indoors or outdoors and
function well in all weather conditions. The side-mounted, hinged door offers
full interior access for “no lift” bag removal. The tie-down feature in the
bin base provides for a secure installation. The bin can be purchased in
several different colors with an imprintable area ideal for signage.
The most critical aspect for program success is
to have clear signs on the recycling bins that direct the customer to the bins
and instruct on what bags to place in the bins. All plastic bag collection
bins should be properly labeled “Recycle Your Plastic Shopping Bags Here” or
“Recycle Plastic Shopping Bags Only” and should be lined with a clear
polyethylene plastic bag to ease collection. In general, signage must clearly
and simply communicate to consumers what you want them to do. It is helpful to
have the signage on the top of the bin or close to the opening to maximize
Provide specific instructions, such as
· Please recycle clean, dry plastic bags
· Empty bags and turn them inside out
· Do NOT include receipts or other
· Place all your empty plastic bags into
· Please include: plastic shopping bags,
grocery bags, plastic newspaper bags, plastic drycleaning bags, all clean,
clear bags labeled with or
· Do NOT include: food wrap (e.g. Saran
Wrap), plastic bags or other film that has had direct contact with food or
· Thank you for recycling!
The Progressive Bag Alliance has developed
at-store signage for your convenience, following are examples:
Recycle Bin Sign:
The recycle bin sign provides instructions on how to recycle plastic bags and
film. The sign should be placed near the plastic bag recycling bin/receptacle
Recycling Poster: The recycling
poster helps raise awareness about recycling plastic bags. The poster can be
placed at-store near checkout/cashiers or in the store window for visibility
Recycling Small Sign:
The small recycling sign helps raise awareness about recycling plastic bags.
The sign can be place anywhere at-store, but most effective at checkout
Consolidation of Plastic Shopping Bags
Developing a consolidation strategy is
important. Once you have designed the basic
collection scheme, you must consider how best to transfer material to a
central location. A comprehensive plan to collect plastic films as part of
your regular waste management activity can minimize the marginal labor and
cost requirements of diverting plastic films.
Ideally, move material from the front of the
store directly to a designated bin in the back of the store to avoid
accidental contamination while being stored. The
central receiving point should be located near the recycling point for other
material to maximize the efficiency of transferring materials together.
Assign a designated staff person for the
recycling program. Although little maintenance of the bins is required, staff
should be assigned to monitor the bins and empty them when necessary. After
the collection bags (filled with empty plastic shopping bags and other film)
have been brought to the back of the store, the retailer has two options:
1. Central Distribution Facility
The preferred method of dealing with large “bags of bags” is to ship them to a
central distribution facility. The bags at the individual stores should then
be collected and loaded onto an outgoing truck heading back to such a
facility. The bags will then be compacted and baled at the distribution center
along with other film materials such as stretch film, shrink, and bundling
film before being shipped to the recycler or processor. If the volume of
material being collected is large enough, arrangements can be made with the
recycler to have an empty trailer located on site. This reduces costs and
2. No Central Distribution Facility
Retailers that do not have access to a central distribution facility will need
to collect their bags and either send them to or have them picked up by a
broker, waste management firm or recycler. The material will be consolidated
with material from other outlets, baled and then shipped to the recycling firm
Note: If you have difficulty finding sources to purchase or handle this
material we suggest you contact your bag manufacturer/supplier.
SALE OF MATERIAL
Once you have
determined the volume generated within a specific time period, the most
important step is establishing a working relationship with a film recycling
company. The amount of collected material and the level of contamination will
dictate the price you receive for the collected material. Transportation costs
are typically a major factor when determining whether a film recovery program
is feasible. The closer the collected film is to the recycling market, the
lower the transportation costs will be and the more likely it will be
plastic bag and scrap film generation is less than one ton per month,
utilizing a drop-off location may be the most economical way to recycle your
plastic bags and film.
The enclosed tools will
communicate to customers, as well as grocery and retail store employees, about
the most effective and proper methods of using and recycling plastic bags. The
program explains how to properly dispose of plastics bags for recycling at a
grocery or retail store location.
These logos can be used in
signage, collateral or printing on bags. Use them alone or in conjunction with
other proper bag use messages.
- Recycle Every Bag logo
- Bag It Right logo
- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
The recycling poster helps
raise awareness about recycling plastic bags. The poster can be placed
at-store near checkout/cashiers or in the store window for visibility outside.
Recycling Small Sign
The small recycling sign
helps raise awareness about recycling plastic bags. The sign can be placed
at-store at checkout.
Recycle Bin Sign
The recycle bin sign
provides instructions on how to recycle plastic bags and film. The sign should
be placed near the plastic bag recycling bin/receptacle.
Bag It Right Reminder
The Bag It Right sign
helps remind baggers and checkers to fill each bag appropriately (with at
least eight items) and to only double bag when absolutely necessary. The sign
should be placed at the bagging station and/or checkout.
Bag It Right Button
This is an example of how
the Bag It Right or Recycle Every Bag logo can be used. The button can be worn
by baggers to raise awareness among store employees and customers.
Just Ask For One Bag
The Just Ask for One
messaging on the divider helps communicate to customers about proper bag use.
It helps capture customers’ attention at the point of use.
Recycle Every Bag Logo
The logo and slogans are
to be used for printing on plastic bags.
Bag It Right Logo and
The logo and slogans are
to be used for printing on plastic bags.
Checkout Bag Ads
The checkout bag
advertisements are meant to communicate to customers about proper bag use and
disposal. These can be used at-store, as posters outside of the store and in
company collateral and advertising.