American Recycler News, Inc.


ISRI issues policy on paper and plastic bags

ISRI’s policy states:

•Promotes a free and fair, competitive, market-based system for the trade of recyclable materials such as paper and plastic bags.

•Supports a competitive marketplace that does not restrict, direct, or interfere with the free flow of recyclable materials.

•Opposes bans and fees on paper and plastic bags that are being manufactured into useful commodity grade materials and sold into viable, commercial markets without subsidies or noncompetitive, fixed pricing.

•Promotes the proper recycling and economic opportunities associated with the collection, processing, and reuse in finished products such as paper and plastic bags.

•Supports requiring retailers to provide convenient collection for recycling of plastic bags offered in their stores.

The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) recently released a policy on bans and fees for recyclable paper and plastic bags approved during a recent board meeting. The policy is in response to increased efforts across the country to ban or apply fees to bags for grocery shopping and other purposes without taking the impact on the recycling industry into account.

“ISRI members that recycle paper and plastic bags are quite concerned that policymakers are banning bags and creating fees without considering the real impact on recycling and the recycling industry. No matter how good the intentions, these policy discussions should not be made in a vacuum,” said Robin Wiener, president of ISRI.

The recycling industry is a pivotal player in environmental protection and sustainability. In the U.S., approximately 77 percent of paper mills rely on recovered fiber to make some or all of their products thanks in part to recovered paper’s significant cost and energy savings. Recycling one ton of paper saves 17 trees, 79 gallons of oil, 7,000 gallons of water, and 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space.

ISRI’s new policy encourages retailers to provide convenient collection for plastic bags. Many retailers have convenient bag collection programs in place that provide a valuable revenue stream. Increased efforts by retailers to collect and recycle used bags will offer the convenience paper and plastic bags provide while reaping the environmental and economic benefits of recycling. In 2011, an estimated 151 million pounds of bags and sacks were collected for recycling and increased 19 percent over 2010.