By now, it's clear there are no facilities in Indiana that will recycle our plastic bags. Susan O'Brien (Account Manager of Waste Management) was the first person to give me the news.
The question, according to Susan, was to call the local grocery stores and ask them where plastic bags are transported for recycling. So, I took her advice and made a few calls. This is what I found out:
Kroger's used to offer plastic-bag recycling, but that service was discontinued eight years ago. Why? Well, recycling these plastic bags became an expense. It simply cost too much to transport the bags for recycling. So they quit offering the service.
Martin's also used to offer plastic-bag recycling. But this service was discontinued when the LaPorte Mill shut down in 2001. After the LaPorte Mill closed, the nearest facility was in Chicago, and they simply couldn't afford to pay the transportation costs. So, they also stopped accepting plastic bags for recycling.
But take note: Martin's offers a .03 cent credit to anyone that reuses their old plastic bags (or cloth bags). Of course, if you're like me, that means you're bound to forget to bring your old bags with you to the store! So here's a challenge: After you're done reading this blog, grab a handful of your plastic bags, and put them in your car. That way, the next time you're at the grocery store, you'll be prepared to bring your bags with you.
Now, when speaking to the store manager of Martin's, I discovered there is one store that offers plastic bag recycling. Which store? He didn't want to name any names, but I thought I heard him mutter, "Wal-Mart". That piqued my interest--I had to call!
So, I called Wal-Mart. Long story short, I had to call 1-800 Wal-mart to ask where they ship their plastic bags for recycling. And then I had to wait three days for their answer--but I did receive a call from them. And this is what I found out:
Each week, a semi-truck picks up plastic bags and other recyclables at Wal-Mart. Those materials get shipped to Bentonville, Arkansas (that's where the Wal-Mart headquarters is located). There's a mill in Bentonville that recycles plastic bags into patio furniture and chairs. Wowza! What a revelation!
So, folks, Wal-Mart is the only store in South Bend that offers plastic-bag recycling. And those plastic bags get transported down south to Bentonville, Arkansas. It's not exactly nearby, and it's certainly not cheap!
As a brief aside, I wonder how much gas money is spent to haul these plastic bags to Bentonville, AK. (How much money does it cost to fill up a semi-truck, anyway?)
Oh! Now that you've finished reading this blog, don't forget the challenge!