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Does Harris Teeter really recycle plastic bags collected in bins at the front of the store?

John Peaspanen
StarNews

Q. I have heard from multiple employees at two Wilmington Harris Teeter stores that the stores do not recycle the plastic bags that they collect in the recycling bins at the front of the stores. Is this true? The stores I have heard this about include the one on College Rd near Wilshire and the one on Gordon and Market. The employees I spoke to said that the plastic bags get thrown out with the rest of the trash.

A. The StarNews contacted managers at the 820 S. College Rd. and 6840 N. Market St. (Ogden Plaza) stores. Though declining to speak for attribution, per corporate policy, each manager said their store management team personally oversees the collection and shipment of all deposited plastic.

Catherine Reuhl, communication manager for Harris Teeter, said, “Harris Teeter has paper and plastic recycling bins in all of its stores. Should shoppers choose to use plastic bags rather than reusable bags, we encourage them to bring back the plastic bags and deposit them in the recycling bin. The recycling bin container is lined with a larger plastic bag, into which all the plastic bags are collected.”

“When the recycling bin is full, a store associate can simply open the container, tie-off the bag and bring it to the back room to be held for the salvage truck,” Reuhl continued. “The bags of plastic bags are returned to our distribution centers where they are sorted and baled. We then send the bales to Trex.”

Trex Co., headquartered in Winchester, Va., is the country’s largest manufacturer of wood-alternative decking and railing products. The company operates manufacturing facilities in Fernley, Nev., and Winchester.

According to Reuhl, Harris Teeter’s recycling program has been quite successful. She said, “In 2011, we recycled just over 2.4 million pounds of plastic, and in 2010, it was 2.38 million pounds. Since we began tracking data in 2006, we’ve recycled 11 million pounds of plastic.”

Not all plastic bags can be recycled.

Reuhl said some bags are deemed unsuitable for recycling and have to be discarded with the trash. She reminds customers, “It is important to remember the bags should not be contaminated when placed in the recycling bin. If a plastic bag is noticeably contaminated, our store managers are authorized to remove and discard in the regular waste stream for sanitary reasons.”

Reuhl provided examples of what should not be placed into the bins. Those items include plastic retail bags with the hard plastic and string handles left intact; zip lock bags with hard components; Tyvek (polyethylene fibers) with glue, labels and other materials; frozen food bags or prewashed salad bags, and bio-based or degradable bags.

 RELATED LINKS:

Can I get 100-percent recycled paper bags at Harris Teeter as a bagging option?

The expansion of Harris Teeter on Oleander is huge. What else will be in the store after the expansion is done?

 

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