Recycled Plastic Bags – A Trash To Treasure Story

By: Lynne Hart
Most people who recycle in Athens and Limestone County are aware that plastic grocery bags can be taken back to some of our grocery stores. Did you know that you can also bring them to the Athens-Limestone Recycling Center on Lucas Ferry Rd.?
What you may not know is that our Recycling Center accepts many other types of plastic film.

At the front of the Recycling Center located on Lucas Ferry Rd., just around the corner from Hwy. 72, there are rolling carts lined up with other drop-off bins waiting to be filled with your household plastic films. The carts have lids to keep the films from becoming litter when the wind kicks up. They may look like trash cans, but what they hold is not trash!

Trex purchases our baled plastic film to use in making beautiful composite lumber. Recycled plastic film from a variety of sources, ranging from the overwrap on paper towels to dry cleaner bags, sandwich bags, and grocery bags, is combined with recycled hardwood sawdust to make the composite lumber. Trex composite lumber consists of 95% recycled materials. By using recycled hardwood sawdust, Trex never has to cut down a tree to create their lumber!

According to the Trex website, they not only make beautiful decking and other outdoor products with recycled materials, they also use some of the most earth-friendly manufacturing processes in the country, reclaiming factory waste and eliminating the use of harmful chemicals.

We feel good knowing that the plastic film products we accept are handled responsibly. Here are some guidelines for recycling plastic film:
Acceptable items:
Please make sure plastic bags and other films are clean and dry.
Grocery and retail bags
Bread bags
Case overwrap (paper towels, napkin, bathroom tissue, etc.)
Dry cleaning bags
Newspaper sleeves
Cereal box liners
Re-closable plastic food storage bags
Produce bags
Bubble wrap and air pillows
Electronic film packaging
Ice bags (inside out and clip removed)
Salt bags (inside out and shaken)
Mattress bags
Furniture wrap

Undesirable Items:
NO black plastics (trash bags, etc.)
NO frozen food bags
NO pre-washed salad mix bags
NO laminate film
NO cheese bags
NO degradable bags

Recycling your plastic bags and other films will keep them out of the landfill or from becoming litter that is so easily carried by the wind. How many plastic bags have you seen waving from fences and tree limbs?

Trex was kind enough to send a bench built with composite lumber to the Recycling Center and it is on display for all to see. This is recycling at its best – going full circle from what some people consider trash to what is now a treasure – and one that won’t need to be painted!

Next time you drop off your recyclables, check out our new bench. Sit a spell and ponder the fact that what you are sitting on may contain materials recycled by you!
By: Lynne Hart
Executive Coordinator – Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful