SB’s ‘bag lady’ targets dry cleaner plastic covers

The bag lady is at it again.

Deb Sandler has a new target: dry cleaning bags.

“This is a huge source of plastic,” Sandler said of dry cleaning bag waste. “People are not aware these can be recycled or are not aware or proper recycling.”

Sandler last introduced Skyline Elementary School to the Wal-Mart plastic bag recycling challenge and was an advocate for the city’s plastic bag collection program.

Customers with good intentions will often place their dry cleaning covers in curbside recycling bins or bring them back to the cleaners.

Unfortunately, plastic bags put in curbside bins are thrown away at the processing plant, and, while some dry cleaners use the bags as trashcan liners, they are ultimately tossed.

Until now.

Working with city staff, Sandler asked two dry cleaners in the Solana Beach Towne Centre, Martinizing and Premiere dry cleaning companies, to install a receptacle for customers to truly recycle their plastic dry cleaning covers.

Both agreed, and after just one week, Sandler hauled two huge, totally packed bags of dry cleaning film to a city collection site.

“We have hit a goldmine,” Sandler said.

The city implemented a plastic bag recycling program earlier this year, which allows all citizens to recycle their plastic shopping bags, newspaper covers and dry cleaning film, which is compressed into 50-pound bales and used by Trex Co. to make composite decking.

The dry cleaning bags will contribute to this program and be picked up by city staff as needed.

“Hundreds of bags go out from our store and only less than five percent come back,” said Steve Cha, owner of Premier Dry Cleaners. “Now hopefully we will have more than 50 percent and this container will fill everyday.”

Cha said his store uses more than 500 bags a day to protect clothes from lint and during transport to and from the car.

At Martinizing, some customers have expressed excitement about the recycling opportunity, assistant manager Sonia Silva said.

“Some people take their clothing out and leave the bag,” Silva said.

Plastic bag recycle bins are lalso ocated at Solana Beach City Hall, the fire station and La Colonia Park.