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Date June 24 2009

To Rick Fosse Director of Public Works

From Jen Jordan Recycling Coordinator

Re Plastic grocery bag follow


City Council directed staff to report back in June regarding plasticgrocery bags to determine if a
ban was necessary Based on conversations with grocers recyclers and state
wide non profit
well as the trends
surrounding this topic it is staff
s opinion that a ban is not
organizations as

needed at this time

Instead continued education partnerships and litter abatement will
enhance the trends of reduced plastic bag use increased recycling and more organized litter
up events

Positive trends

Over the six months staff has discussed plastic bag recycling and bans with grocers
past use

recycles and the executive directors of Keep Iowa Beautiful and the Iowa Recycling Association
The trends that they have seen in the past year are encouraging

1 Reduced plastic grocery baq use The sales and use of totes is increasing across the state
While it is difficult for stores to track exact numbers on plastic grocery bag use Hy Vee
estimates that they have seen an estimated five to ten percent decrease in plastic bag use over
the past year Fareway and Wal Mart speculate that the number of plastic bags they use has

decreased since they have seen an increase in the number of totes sold and used

Some local stores have taken the initiative tocharge for bags For instance Aldi Food Stores
have been charging 0
10 heavy
duty plastic
for bags for many years Customers bring their
own totes bags or boxes for groceries and the manager of the Iowa City Aldi Food Stores

stated that they see customers reusing the Aldi

brand plastic bags repeatedly until they are
worn past reuse op began charging customers 0
In addition the New Pioneer Co 05 per bag
on Earth Day 2009 All proceeds are being donated to the Crisis Center

2 Increase in plastic baq recycling rates Informal surveys and observations indicate that all or

almost all local grocery stores offer plastic bag recycling

According to Mike
Smith Hys Director of Real Estate and Sustainability Hy
Vee Vee saw a
25 increase in plastic bag recycling across the state in FY08 City Carton Recycling offers
off facility and works with local stores to take the plastic bags
plastic bag recycling at their drop
the retailers collect through their plastic bag recycling programs An increase in plastic bag
recycling locally mirrors a national trend Waste News recently reported that plastic bag and film
recycling reached an all time high in 2006 and continues to increase

InApril 2009 the four major bag manufacturers in the US announced a goal of using 40
recycled content by 2015 This will significantly increase the demand for plastic bag recycling
and reduce the consumption of natural gas in bag making
June 24 2009
Page 2

Next steps

While the trends discussed above are encouraging ongoing efforts will be necessary Public
education will be will working with local grocers to support and inform the public
important as

about their programs

1 Public education City and ECICOG staff includes education about reuse including totes in
all outreach programs offered to local schools civic groups and public libraries in the
corridor On average the education programs reach about 3 000 students and residents
per year

Keep Iowa KIB received a Department of Natural Resources Solid Waste

Alternative Program grant to study the views of the public across the state regarding this
Based on this information the public does not feel that they are wellinformed about
what stores have in place KIB plans to work with the Iowa Grocers
recycling or programs
Association on a campaign to provide a common message to the public about recycling
grocery bags such as common
signage in store parking lots to remind shoppers to take
their totes into the store and education for store employees to encourage shoppers to

purchase totes and remind shoppers to use them

staff will work with local retailers and Carton Recycling to advertise locations of
Locally City
plastic bag recycling drop
offs stronger message will be incorporated into outreach
A reuse

and advertising such as newspaper ads and outreach at local events

2 Litter abatement While Johnson County is not an affiliate of Keep Iowa Beautiful we have a

strong volunteer litter collection system

The Highway program
Adopt covers Highways 218 1 and 6 as well as Interstate 80
and 380 Most sections in Johnson County have been adopted and are picked up at
least twice annually
The Stormwater Utility organizes numerous creek ups annually
clean and has extended

that in 2009 to Iowa River ups

The Aerohawks Club has four ups
clean on IWV Road annually in a
with the landfill
The landfill to initiate an annual fall up of Highway 218
clean in 2009


Staff does not feel that a ban is needed at this time Expanded education programs and
with local retailers will more residents to use totes and recycle their
partnerships encourage
up activities will help residents see the problems that bags
plastic bags Additional litter clean
pose in the environment and further encourage them to use totes and recycle their plastic bags
With these initiatives the use of plastic bags is likely to continue its downward trend The
is to increase have
purchase and use of totes as well as
plastic bag recycling likely as we seen

over the past year