October 30, 2006

The Stupidity Of Recycling Plastic Bags

Recycling facilities hate plastic grocery bags. They clog up the machines, interfere with sorting, and are ultimately thrown out, not recycled. Waste Management estimates plastic grocery bag related issues costs each of their recycling facilities at least one hour of productivity and thousands of dollars in maintenance every day! Like most people when faced with a problem, they looked for a solution.

They decided to launch a public information campaign. There was a well massaged newspaper article, flyers attached to the inside of recycling bins, and materials were distributed to elementary school students. A commercial even ran on a couple of cable channels. Waste Management was dedicated to stopping people from trying to recycle plastic grocery bags.

The irony here is that plastic grocery bags are completely recyclable. Waste Management simply has no desire to do it. Instead of trying to solve their plastic grocery bag problem by educating an otherwise apathetic and confused public who believes the bags should be recycled, Waste Management needs to create a mechanism by which to recycle the bags. In place of expensive public relations campaigns, they have an opportunity to build the infrastructure to make themselves more money, create a convenience for their customers, and be environmentally responsible all at the same time.

Alas, yelling at the guy who is doing something (perceived as) wrong is easier (but not necessarily cheaper) than envisioning a creative solution.