What about recycled plastic bags?

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Recycled plastic bags are made into composite lumber used for building structures and post-consumer resin for new plastic products. Clean bags can be recycled at local centers, reducing pollution and harm to animals. Using fewer plastic bags can protect the environment, and bags can be reused for trash or pet waste.

Recycled plastic bags are used daily in grocery stores, and consumers bring them home filled to the brim with produce, canned goods, bread, and other household products. Most people don’t stop to think about what happens to bags once they are taken to a recycling center. Most recycled plastic bags are made into composite wood. Composite lumber is usually made of two equal substances: sawdust and plastic bags.

Lumber made from these two recycled substances is used for a variety of items. Wood structures such as door frames, window frames, and outdoor decks are just a few of the building projects that use lumber made from recycled plastic bags. Recycled plastic bags are also used to make post-consumer resin. This resin is used in the production of new plastic bags, crates, tubes, pallets and containers.

Recycling stations are found in most communities across the U.S. Many grocery stores have an area designated for this purpose. No matter where consumers leave their bags, only clean recycled plastic bags should be taken to the local recycling center. Food, plastic wrap, prepackaged food bags, or receipts should never be left inside a bag intended for recycling.

When a recycling center starts the recycling process, it melts the plastic. Next, the plastic is forced through an extruder, a machine that compresses the plastic into long, noodle-like shapes or small pieces. The extruder die shapes the plastic before it is cut with a knife. Finally, plastic exists in the form of composite lumber or tiny pellets that can be made into other plastic objects.

Recycling plastic bags helps the environment in several ways. Because plastic bags aren’t biodegradable, they stay around for a long time and can leach chemicals, contaminating water and soil. Ensuring all plastic bags are recycled helps alleviate this problem. Chemicals are used in the production of plastics that pollute the air, water and food. Using fewer plastic bags also means humans and animals will be less exposed to chemicals.

Sometimes, plastic bags make their way to the ocean and marine animals eat them, thinking they are food. Some marine animals can even get entangled in plastic bags. In short, taking plastic bags to the recycling center can help save the lives of animals that live in or around the ocean.
People who want to protect the environment can make a conscious decision to use fewer plastic bags. For example, plastic bags can be recycled at home. Some people use them to line trash cans or to carry lunch to work and school. Pet owners also often use them to pick up pet waste.

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