Casey Vaughan: Single-use products are a pressing environmental issue

2 months ago Fremont Tribune

Plastic. It’s everywhere we turn, there seems to be no escaping it. While it does offer convenient solutions in our fast-paced lifestyles, plastic pollution has become one of the most pressing environmental issues due to the rapidly increasing production of single-use products.

Single-use products are intentionally made to be used once, or for a short period of time, before being thrown away. Some of the most common single-use plastics we see today include shopping bags, cutlery, bottles and lids, straws and stirrers, wrappers, product packaging, and take-out containers.

In recent years, there has been a focus on the harmful impacts plastic shopping bags have on lakes, rivers, oceans, forests, and wildlife. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, approximately 4.20 million tons of plastic bags and wraps were generated in 2018. Of this amount, 0.42 million tons were recycled, 0.74 million tons were combusted with energy recovery, and a staggering 3.04 million tons were sent to the landfill.

The recycling rate for these plastic bags and wraps was just 10%. State legislatures have considered several measures to reduce plastic bag use at grocery stores and other businesses. While some states have imposed plastic bag bans, most have focused their efforts on implementing recycling programs.

It is important to mention that recycling plastic bags and wraps can be a bit trickier than recycling other plastics, as they are not accepted in curbside programs due to the issues they can cause in machines at sorting facilities. They can easily get jammed in equipment and will ultimately end up in the landfill.

However, you can safely recycle your plastic bags and wraps at local grocery stores, including Baker’s, Hy-Vee, and Walmart. Acceptable items include plastic bags (shopping, dry cleaning, resealable zipper, cereal, and bread bags), product over and outer wraps (beverage, paper towel, and toilet paper wraps), and shipping materials (shipping bags, film, and bubble wrap). Prior to recycling these items, be sure your bags are empty. This will help combat contamination in the recycling bins.

In addition to plastic bag and wrap recycling, there are several other free recycling opportunities throughout the Fremont community.

Keep Fremont Beautiful maintains a local recycling opportunities list to serve as a guide to which items can be recycled where. As an extension to this guide, we have been working to create a more inclusive list detailing clothing drop box locations, recycling events that will be taking place this year, and stores that sell second-hand items. We have also included information on medication, sharps, and household hazardous waste disposal.

The new Local Recycling and Disposal Guide will be available on our website within the next few weeks. It will also be included with your Department of Utilities invoice in March. Please contact Keep Fremont Beautiful with any disposal or recycling questions you may have.

Casey Vaughan

Casey Vaughan is executive director of Keep Fremont Beautiful. She can be reached at 529 North Main Street, Suite 4, Fremont, or at 402-941-6122.











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