Nowadays, a lot of Boston region towns and cities are looking to curb the impact of plastic bags on the environment. Instead of these bags ending up in landfills or littering the ground, another way to get rid of clean plastic shopping bags (and some other clean plastic film or bags) is to bring them to your grocery store. A lot of grocery stores have the plastic bag drop-box where you can bring back clean plastic bags and leave them in there. A question that frequently comes up is, where does the grocery store send these large amounts of plastic bags?
Typically the plastic bags get recycled into composite lumber. Two major companies produce this lumber – Trex Company, Inc. and Advanced Environmental Recycling Technologies. There are also bag collection drop-off bins that might reuse these bags by melting them down to create more plastic bags, giving them another life. According to PBS, scientists at the University of Adelaide can recycle the plastic bags into nanotechnology, which can later be used for multiple applications. After being converted into carbon nanotube membranes, they can be used for energy storage and future biomedical innovations.
One important note is that the city of Boston, and multiple other municipalities around the US, do not currently recycle plastic bags. So even if you put your single-stream recycling into a plastic bag and put it in the recycling bin, these plastic bags typically jam up the process further down the line. Always check with your local municipality to ensure that plastic bags are recyclable or not.