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Environmental Protection & Preservation

Plastic Bag Recycling Program Kicks Off Statewide in California

Beginning July 1, grocers and chain drug stores statewide will provide opportunities for consumers to easily and conveniently return clean plastic carryout bags to the stores providing them.

As a result of a state law passed in 2006 (AB 2449, Levine, D-Van Nuys), grocery and other retailers are implementing at-store recycling programs for plastic carryout bags. Additionally, stores will provide reusable bags for sale to customers.

"While many grocery retailers were already providing this service to their consumers, the statewide program allows grocers and their customers to effectively partner in the effort to recycle and reduce the amount of material going into our landfills," said California Grocers Association President Peter Larkin.

Consumers are encouraged to return clean plastic carryout bags to stores for recycling. Collection bins will be available at participating retailers in accessible locations. Grocery and chain drug retailers are responsible for the collection and recycling of plastic carryout bags returned to their stores. Consumers should also check with their local retailer to determine if they accept other types of plastic film for recycling.

"Retailers are making a commitment to continue their overall recycling effort with the implementation of this program. In addition to plastic carryout bag recycling, grocery retailers also recycle plastic film and corrugated cardboard used in shipping, green waste and other material," Larkin added. In 2005, CGA member companies recycled more than 2.2 billion pounds of plastic, paper, corrugated cardboard, wood, green waste and animal products.

"This program is the result of legislation worked on by a coalition of environmental groups, local governments, and the supermarket and chain drug industries, said Pamela Williams, Senior Vice President for the California Retailers Association. "It's an example of what can be achieved when we work together."

California's grocery industry has and continues to play an integral role in the State's recycling efforts. Not only are grocery stores committed to reducing, reusing, and recycling cardboard, plastics, green waste, corrugated wax, wood, and other valuable resources, but the number of stores participating in recycling programs and the number of products recycled continues to grow each year.

Many retailers divert more than 50 percent of their total solid waste from landfill disposal and actively engage with community members to encourage and assist customers in recycling various materials, including electronic devices.

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