As we prepare for an unprecedented holiday season, Americans will be shopping online more than ever. Online sales will surge 34% year over year for the 2020 holiday season. Retailers do not want consumers waiting on the traditionally long Black Friday lines, as such they are incentivizing and pushing consumers towards virtual options, which will ultimately drive digital sales.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic consumers are heavily utilizing delivery and curbside pickup for all their shopping, including everyday needs like groceries and toiletries. All of this means that throughout the holiday season there will be a large increase in the number of plastic bags and packaging that consumers need to dispose of. Despite popular belief, much of the packaging used in online orders is recyclable, just not in your curbside bin. Air pillows and stretchy plastic bags can be recycled along with traditional plastic retail bags at many supermarkets and big box retail chains.
Properly recycled plastic bags and films may get to see a second life as new grocery bags, composite lumber, playground equipment, railroad ties, or asphalt. These programs exist due to investments that the American plastic bag manufacturers have made to ensure alternative pathways for plastic other than the landfill. They pioneered the takeback program found at supermarkets and big box stores (at zero cost to the consumer).
Improper recycling is not a new problem, in 2019 municipal recycling centers were overwhelmed by the amount of packaging received throughout the holiday season. Centers have taken to calling it the “Amazon Effect.” Utilizing proper recycling techniques can keep operations at recycling centers running smoothly.
The continued rise in e-commerce will not prevent us from building a more sustainable future but consumers must do their part. To find locations that accept plastic bags and film packaging near you, please click here.