About this Project
Paper? Plastic? How about None of the Above!
We all know it’s better to use reusable bags than ask for paper or plastic. In fact, Montgomery County has a 5 cent tax on disposable bags, because of how damaging they are to the environment. Bringing your own bag helps keep our streams clean, allows you to stylishly express yourself while shopping, and helps you save the .5 cents at checkout.
But sometimes we have all had to make “the call”. Have you ever been in the checkout line and only then realize your reusable bags are in the car or stuffed in the cabinet at home? Do you try the juggling technique, the mad dash out to the car, or buy the single-use bag?
It happens to all of us. If you need to get a plastic or paper bag, pay the $.05, and then remember to recycle the bag later. It’s ok! The main thing is to try to remember your reusable bags in the future and make sure that the single-use bags go into a recycle bin, and not our steams.
To help you remember to bring your bags, here are our tips:
- Write BYOB at the top of your shopping lists.
- Get a collapsible bag that can fit in your wallet or hang from your keychain.
- Keep bags everywhere – In the office, your car, backpack, and at home.
Got a Plastic Bag? Now What?
Plastic bags can be recycled at any grocery store in Montgomery County. Click here to find all of the plastic bag drop-off locations in your area.
What plastic bags, films and wraps are accepted in store recycling programs?
Grocery and retail store plastic bag recycling drop-offs generally accept all clean, dry plastic bags, shrink wrap, and plastic film. This includes plastic newspaper sleeves, bread bags, and dry-cleaning bags, as well as most plastic wrapping covering paper towel rolls, tissue boxes, and cases of water. Clean and dry plastic food storage bags, like Ziploc® bags are accepted too.
Remember to remove receipts and other papers from bags and separately recycle the paper.
Refer to this list of generally accepted plastic from plasticfilmrecycling.org for more details.
Are bubble wrap and air pillows included?
Bubble wrap and air pillows are also accepted for recycling at plastic bag and film drop-offs.
Reuse is even better than recycling! Some options include:
- bringing it to a local packaging or mailbox store
- offering it on your neighborhood email list
- offering it on Craigslist, Freecycle, or similar places
Can plastic bags, film, and wrap go in my curbside recycling bin?
No, plastic bags are not acceptable in your weekly County-provided curbside recycling collection, so please do not put any plastic bags into your recycling bin.
Remember to remove receipts and other papers from bags before recycling them.
Refer to this list of generally accepted plastic types from plasticfilmrecycling.org for more details.
What if I Get a Paper Bag Instead?
Many people believe that getting paper bags is more environmentally friendly, but that’s not quite the case. Millions of trees are cut down each year to make paper bags, and paper bags use 4 times the energy to produce, and contribute towards air and water pollution.
For more information about the harms of paper and plastic bags, check out this graphic from the Washington Post.
If you need more reusable bags, head to your local library where the County distributes free bags (one per person).
Every single-use bag you get from the grocery store will cost you 5 cents. So bring reusables — they’ll be paid for in no time. If you believe a retailer is not implementing the bag law, please report it to 311.
The revenues from the Montgomery County Bag Law are deposited into the County’s Water Quality Protection Charge (WQPC) fund. The revenues help to shift the burden of litter cleanup costs from public taxpayers to consumers who have a choice to avoid the 5-cent charge by bringing reusable bags. The end goal is for revenue from the bag law to go down to zero, because then there would be no one using single-use paper or plastic bags!