City of Solana Beach takes to plastic bag recycling program
Solana Beach residents and businesses helped divert more than 230,000 plastic bags from landfills between September 2008 and September 2009 through the city’s plastic bag recycling program.
The program was launched in July 2008. Since then the city has spent approximately $550 to purchase 11 recycling bins at $50 each. The only additional cost is staff time to operate the baler, said Danny King, environmental specialist for the city of Solana Beach.
Volunteers Deb Sandler, who is affectionately called Solana Beach’s bag lady, and Marilee McLean collect the bags and deliver them to a mini-baler at the county waste yard. The plastic comes out in 50-pound bales. Trex Decking collects the plastic and uses it to make composite decking.
Trex recently informed the city that it has the top producing baler among the 11 Trex oversees throughout Southern California.
King said this is the first public-private partnership between a city and Trex. The company also ensures all the plastic is being recycled here in the U.S.
“The plastic bag recycling program is an important part of the city’s sustainability efforts,” King said. “The adverse financial and environmental impacts of plastic bags is well known, and this program is a progressive and innovative way to reduce these impacts.”
Last Thursday, volunteers with the Clean and Green Team handed out 200 reusable grocery bags to customers at Vons and Henry’s markets. Waste Management donated the bags and the city used its e-blast notices to promote the program.
The city of Encinitas sponsored “A Day Without A Bag” the same day and Solana Beach is considering a similar campaign sometime in the spring.
“We are asking everyone in Solana Beach to be aware of the plastic bag problem, the cost to society and how it adversely affects marine life,” said David Ott, city manager. He added, “Much of the plastic that ever was is still here.”
“The event was a great way to get out into the community and promote the use of reusable bags,” King said.
He said the goal was to raise awareness of the adverse environmental effects of using disposable bags.
“A significant amount of resources go into producing plastic bags, and less than 5 percent are currently being recycled,” King said. He added that while paper bags are biodegradable, they still require “vast” amounts of fossil fuels and water to produce, distribute and collect for disposal.
Sandler got the idea for the program in 2006, when her son was a student at Skyline Elementary and the school decided to participate in a plastic collection contest sponsored by Wal-Mart. Skyline came in third after students and parents spent hours working with local businesses, such as Marshall’s and Target in Encinitas, to collect plastic bags otherwise bound for the waste bin.
“We discovered how much plastic was being thrown away, and when the collection ended, the employees and customers were disturbed about having to throw the plastic away,” Sandler said.
After some research she found Trex and decided to go to the city with the idea. Ever since, she’s been working to expand the program to other cities and even get companies such as TJX Companies, the parent company of Marshall’s.
Sandler stressed that plastic bags cannot be recycled in curbside bins provided by the city. She also said the plastic bag recycling is not limited to grocery bags, but includes almost any thin plastic packaging. The bags that newspapers are delivered in, for example, or toilet paper packaging. “As long as it’s clean and dry, we can recycle it,” she said.
Plastic bag recycling sites
- One Hour Martinizing
661 Lomas Santa Fe Drive, next to Henry’s Market
- Premiere Cleaners
154 S. Solana Hills Drive, next to Aaron Brothers
- Lomas Santa Fe Cleaners
917 Lomas Santa Fe Drive, next to Vons
- On The Spot Cleaners
124 Lomas Santa Fe Drive, next to Subway
- Solana Beach Walk Cleaners
437 S. Highway 101, behind Rubio’s
- Thinker Things
943 Lomas Santa Fe Drive, next to Vons
- Sun Diego
677 Lomas Santa Fe Drive, next to CVS
685 San Rodolfo Drive, next to Staples
- Fire Station
500 Lomas Santa Fe Drive
- La Colonia County Park
- City Hall
635 S. Hwy. 101
- Plastic bag recycling plan promoted by Solana Beach
- SB’s ‘bag lady’ targets dry cleaner plastic covers
- Solana Beach is a Cool City
- Residential waste/recycling service delayed by one day for week following Labor Day
- SD council considers plastic bag ban
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