Green Ideas + Creative Technology for Retail


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A Plastic Bag Story Problem

Posted on March 7, 2013 at 3:20 PM

That's a Whole Lotta Plastic Bags!


We have been doing a lot of research on plastic bags, recycling, supermarkets and shopper behavior.  What we find to be most consistent in our research are the inconsistent facts about plastic bag usage and recycling.

Having said that… We decided to put together some facts and figures using reasonable data, common sense and simple math.

There are about 37,000 supermarkets in the USA.

On a typical day in the USA over 32 million adults go grocery shopping.

On average 3,500 or more people shop at their local supermarket every day.

With that, more than 200 million plastic bags are used every day.

Most shoppers average 8 to 10 plastic bags per trip.

When people do recycle their plastic bags at the store, they usually bring back about 30 of them -  that’s about a bag stuffed full of wadded up bags.

It takes approximately 77 plastic bags to make a pound.

There is 2000 pounds in a ton, it takes roughly 154,000 bags to make one ton.

On average the recycling industry pays $300 to $400 for a ton of plastic bags.  

That's not bad!

So, if just 25% or 875 of the 3,500 shoppers that go to their local supermarket everyday were to recycle 30 of their unwanted plastic bags…Somewhere around 26,250 plastic bags would be collected in just one day.

It would take less than 1 week for a single store to accumulate a ton of bags!

Better yet, stores with several locations could collect more than a ton per day!

OK - this is pretty simple stuff right? It’s not that easy…

Most shoppers don’t even know they can recycle plastic bags at the store.

Sadly, less than 5% of shoppers recycle their plastic bags.

Why?  It seems to be a lack of awareness...

We want to help improve these numbers!

That’s one of many reasons we're developing the Eco-Collect & Connect Kiosk; designed to enhance in-store plastic bag recycling programs by promoting awareness.

We believe our fun eye-catching digital kiosk will help promote in-store plastic bag recycling.  Please share your thoughts; we would like to hear from you!

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