Plastic Bag Recycled Content Goal

In the near and distant future (2015) most disposable plastic bags you get at the local store will be made from up to 40% recycled content.

To reach this goal the American Chemistry Council announced a new initiative to invest in the collection and manufacturing of these bags. The recycling of plastic bags and wraps has escalated in recent years to an estimated 830 million pounds in 2007. This represents a 27 percent increase from 2005. Still, additional material will need to be collected for manufacturers to reach their goal. About 470 million pounds of plastic will be reclaimed for the manufacturing of new bags and will help in the development of plastic recycling and using recycled plastic content. Expect in-store recycling programs and the visibility of such programs to increase to help reach these goals.

Now, not all bags will be made from 40% recycled content and most will only achieve 25% recycled content. And it is unclear if you will be able to tell which bag contains which percentage.

So what does this mean for us crafters?

Well, not a whole lot.

I can see a decrease in fusible plastic crafting and the use of plarn due to a shortage of raw materials but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

An increase in reclamation will also decrease litter and the amount of plastic bags that end up in the landfill. If other countries adopted similar goals perhaps we won’t see any more plastic bag billboards or bags with a conscience.

I am also curious to see if the increase in recycled content will have an effect on the process of fusing the bags together. But again, this concern seems so small compared to the bigger picture. I am also torn between celebrating this step in the right direction and throwing my hands up in a huff about the low percentage and the time line to get there.

What do you think? Will this effort have an effect on plastic bag crafting or will we see plastic bags used in crafting well into the future?

Written by Kelly Rand

Kelly covers visual arts in and around Washington, DC for DCist and is editor of Crafting a Green World. Kelly has also been published by Bust Magazine and you can find her byline at Indie Fixx and Etsy’s Storque and has taught in Etsy’s virtual lab on the topic of green crafting.

Kelly helps organize Crafty Bastards: Arts and Crafts Fair, one of the largest indie craft fairs on the east coast and has served on the Craft Bastard’s jury since 2007. Kelly is also co-founder of Hello Craft a nonprofit trade association dedicated to the advancement of independent crafters and the handmade movement. Kelly resides in Washington, D.C. and believes that handmade will save the world.


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