Plastic Bag Recycling

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Plastic bags caught in tree limbsAs we continue to work to close the recycling loop, one item that still remains an issue is the use of plastic grocery bags.  Many communities have found that while convenient, plastic bags come at a price.  One scenario has plastic bags accumulating in landfills - they do not decompose quickly. The other scenario is the litter created from the bags - because of their lightweight nature, they are easily blown out of trash containers and end up stuck in underbrush and grassy/wooded areas, or eventually find their way into streams, creeks and waterways.

While recyclers accept plastic bags in some areas, the opportunities are limited due to the large quantities needed to make this recyclable material a viable resource.  According to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, it takes roughly 40,000 lbs. of plastic bags to make recycling an option for the bags - thus making it very difficult for recyclers to offer a workable program to the average residential community.

How can residents help reduce the litter and waste created from these bags? One option is to recycle plastic bags.  The website offers an interactive locator for obtaining a list of stores that offer plastic bag recycling as well as what types of bags can be recycled.  Many of our local grocery and discount stores accept plastic bags from any store for recycling.

Another option is to use reusable shopping bags.  Often crafted from recycled material, these tote bags can be used over and over again at the grocery store, running errands, bringing lunch to work - a multitude of uses - and won't end up adding plastic bags to the landfill or litter to local waterways and natural habitats.

Whichever method you choose, please help keep Leesburg a beautiful place to live, work and visit by keeping plastic bags from becoming litter or adding to the landfill.  For more information or if you have any questions, please contact Public Works at 703-771-2790 or e-mail