Bag Blog

"A Bag's Life" Creates Buzz at America Recycles Day at Virginia Capitol

RICHMOND, VA— A statewide plastic bag recycling awareness campaign in Virginia called A Bag's Life, which includes an interactive and educational website (www.abagslife.com/VA), an app that pinpoints nearly 800 drop-off sites by zip code, and a make-your-own video contest, was launched today during America Recycles Day at the Capitol.

Keep Virginia Beautiful, the Department of Environmental Quality, the Office of the Secretary of Natural Resources and the Virginia Retail Federation were among those in the public-private partnership that kicked off the program.

A Bag's Life, through quirky messaging like "Don't treat me like trash" and "Gimme a second chance," encourages Virginians to reduce, recycle and reuse their free grocery bags. It also reminds consumers that other bags like those used for dry cleaning, newspapers and bread, as well as wraps used on products like paper towels or bottled water also can be dropped off at many retailers for recycling.

"America Recycles Day has been set aside as a day when we individually pledge to take extra steps to reduce waste and make recycling work at home and in our communities," said Mike Baum, executive director of Keep Virginia Beautiful. "By taking the extra time to bring grocery bags back to the store to be recycled, people are giving that bag a second chance to be made into something else like outdoor decking, park benches, or even new bags. It's a simple earth-friendly practice that can yield tremendous results."

Margaret Ballard, vice president, Advocacy for the Virginia Retail Federation (VRF), noted that while plastic bag recycling is not new to Virginia, this unique program -- a statewide educational partnership in which public and private groups work together to promote recycling plastic bags -- certainly is. The VRF was instrumental in obtaining funding for the first Plastic Bag Recycling project in the State -- in Isle of Wight County. 'Isle be Green' was kicked off in September 2009, and to date more than 1 million plastic bags have been recycled in that county. Nationwide, plastic bag recycling is a growing national trend, with more than 832 million pounds recycled in 2008 -- that's a 28 percent increase since 2005.

"Retailers across Virginia are well aware of the impact plastic bag litter has on our roadways and agricultural environment in Virginia," said Ballard. "That's why nearly 800 retail stores are participating by offering their drop-off sites for consumers to recycle these bags. Recycling not only helps clean up plastic bag litter, but supports economic resources for our Virginia-based partners like Trex, the Winchester-based manufacturer of plastic building materials."

Trex estimates that more than 720,000 pounds of bags are recycled in its Winchester plant -- close to 48 million bags a week. A Trex 2X6 board that is 16 ft. long uses approximately 2,250 bags. Trex and Hilex Poly both joined in the launch.

"The 132 employees at Hilex Poly in Richmond are committed to both the community and the environment by supporting recycling and using recycled content to make our products," said Darren Graveel, plant manager. "In 2009 alone we used more than one million pounds of recycled plastic to make bags. Our corporate goal is to use more than 20 percent recycled content in all of our bags by 2015."

The website for A Bag's Life also has information about a make-it-yourself video contest for high school students, and an easy to use recycle location finder that lists the nearest drop-off points for plastic bag and film recycling. The website also has a Google Maps option that shows drop-off locations, making recycling plastic bags and wraps easier than ever before.

About A Bag's Life in Virginia??A Bag's Life is a public educational campaign that unites non-profits, business, community and government organizations around the common goal of promoting the three R's as they relate to plastic bags -- reduce, reuse and recycle. Partners include: Keep Virginia Beautiful, the Department of Environmental Quality, Virginia Retail Federation, Virginia Recycling Association, Trex and the American Chemistry Council. www.abagslife.com/VA

About Keep Virginia Beautiful
KVB's mission is to engage and unite Virginians to improve the natural and scenic environment. Service strategies include becoming the statewide voice, providing a framework for improved communication and collaboration, cultivating and supporting sustainable programs, and engaging citizens by linking them to volunteer opportunities and information through five impact areas: Litter Prevention, Waste Reduction, Recycling, Beautification and Education. www.keepvirginiabeautiful.org

(11.15.10)