Science Questions

Sun, 5th Mar 2006

Part of the show Recycling, Water Use and Problem Plastic

Question

Eth in Suffolk asked:

My local council has told us to stop putting plastic carrier bags in the recycling bin. The reason allegedly is that some supermarkets are issuing biodegradable bags that can't recycled. It's too expensive and time consuming to sort these from the ordinary carrier bags. It seems to me that these biodegradable bags are causing more rubbish as no bags at all are now being recycled. Are there any other schemes that have similarly backfired, and is there a solution to this problem?

Answer

That's a difficult one. I'm surprised that he's been told that because all supermarkets usually have recycling schemes now so that you should be able to take your plastic bags back to the supermarket so you can get them recycled regardless of whether they're biodegradable or not. The best thing to do in the first place is not to use plastic bags, or take them back and reuse them so you don't get this build up of plastic bags in your kitchen drawer. Best of all is to get a bag for life or a reusable bag.

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