From foodstuffs to clothes, Ziploc bags can be used for storing and organizing almost anything you want. Available in various sizes and designs, these bags have always kept dust and dirt away from our important stuff.
It is more than just a bag; it wouldn’t be entirely wrong to call it a protector of our things. But how does it impact our environment?
Can you recycle Ziploc bags? While it is possible to recycle Ziploc bags, it is not easy due to the use of number 4 plastic (LDPE) in its manufacturing. If you want to recycle Ziploc bags, you must prepare them for recycling beforehand. However, it would be best if you stopped buying these bags altogether and look for other, safer storage alternatives.
Are you wondering what the Ziploc bags are made up of? Or do you want to learn more about the recyclability and reusability of these bags?
Stay with us, and by the end of this article, all your queries will be resolved.
What are Ziploc Bags?
A Ziploc Bag is a low-cost storage bag, often transparent, usually made of plastic, and can be sealed and unzipped many times.
These bags are available in many different sizes and are often used for packaging, storage, and organization. They offer a great deal of convenience and visibility.
Although Ziploc bags are designed to be reusable, they are not eco-friendly and will eventually contribute to plastic pollution.
Since we do not have the effective infrastructure to recycle the bags on the similar scale that they are being used up, the Ziploc bags end up becoming waste at the end of their usage cycle.
How are Ziploc bags made?
A Ziploc bag is made of a plastic called linear low-density polyethylene film (LDPE) produced from fossil fuels. It is created through high-pressure polymerization of ethene.
It is important to note that the drilling process involved in extracting fossil fuels like natural gas and crude oil causes serious harm to the environment.
Creating a write-on label on the bag and adding color to the zip closure generates toxic wastewater.
This wastewater, which is a byproduct of water-based ink production, is tough to treat, and if not handled carefully, would lead to environmental pollution.
Different types of Ziploc bags
As most of you might already know, several kinds of Ziploc bags are manufactured to serve different purposes. Let’s take a quick look at some basic types of bags that we use in our daily lives:
The freezer bags come in handy in protecting your food inside your freezer. They lock out freezer burn and keep the food fresh and full of taste. Moreover, they also help in preserving the original flavor of liquids like soups and gravies.
Their transparency is just another additional feature, which allows you to keep an eye on their contents and ensure they don’t go bad.
Slider Freezer Bags
The slider freezer bag is a bag with an expandable bottom. Its flat base makes it easier to fill. These bags are perfect for storing bulky food items.
Their slider closure makes them convenient for you to close and open. These bags are easy to organize in refrigerators and pantries. And their best feature is that they are also microwavable.
The storage bags are used for storing and organizing vegetables, fruits, cosmetics, pencils, pens, and so much more.
These bags can also conveniently store meat products and seafood in the refrigerator.
The sandwich bags are used in packing eatables like sandwiches, pizzas, salads, cookies, fruit, wafers, and chips for a takeout.
These bags prevent the food from absorbing moisture as they are airtight. They are also easy to carry and can be stored anywhere.
Why should Ziploc bags be recycled?
We already know that Ziploc bags are made of plastic. But did you know that bags made up of plastic are the second most common ocean waste (after cigarette butts)?
They harm thousands of aquatic creatures in the ocean every year, with an estimated 40,000+ pieces of plastic moving freely in each square mile of the ocean!
Plastic bags are the most common and major cause of water pollution in the oceans. They are often engulfed by creatures, causing them to choke and resulting in their painful death.
Other than the ocean, the landfill is the second most common resting place for plastic bags. The waste is often burned in the landfills, due to which toxic chemicals are released into the atmosphere.
If we want to prevent plastic from destroying our environment so brutally, we must choose to recycle it, including Ziploc bags. When we recycle plastic, we also save a large number of resources and raw materials.
Recycling around 450,000 to 500,000 plastic bags can help save about 11 casks of oil. Sounds too much, doesn’t it?
Well, now that we’ve learned why it is necessary to recycle plastic, let’s see if the Ziploc bags are even recyclable.
Why is it difficult to recycle Ziploc Bags?
As we have discussed earlier, Ziploc bags are made from a plastic called LDPE, which is a number 4 plastic. But what does that mean for the recycling procedure of these bags?
Well, recycling LDPE is not as easy as recycling other items like metal scraps and paper products. Not all recycling centers will accept #4 plastic.
The recyclability of LDPE is limited. The plastics must be sorted, cleaned, and melted down to be converted into plastic pellets. This process is costlier than the production of LDPE from new materials. The extra costs come from sorting and cleaning the used material.
The recycling programs for Ziploc bags do not offer much compensation. Therefore, there is little encouragement for the consumers to put in the extra effort to clean, dry, store, and carry the bags for recycling purposes rather than simply throwing it in their trash bin.
If not recycled, Ziploc bags pose a danger to the environment. If they make their way into the water bodies or marine life, they will be the source of grave danger.
Ziploc bags do not decompose in a landfill environment, so every bag tossed into a landfill stays there forever.
Although corporations have made efforts to reduce emissions and toxic waste in their manufacturing process, they still produce products with nil biodegradation and limited recycling availability.
Steps for preparing Ziploc bags for recycling
Although the recyclability of Ziploc bags is limited, all of us must act as responsible citizens and make the process of recycling easier.
Here are a few things you can do for the center by following these simple steps:
#1. Ensure that the Ziploc bags are devoid of food particles and dirt when you are removing them for recycling. Take off any tags or stickers if present.
#2. Before you put these bags into the bin for segregation, ensure that they’re thoroughly cleaned and dried.
#3. Collect all the Ziploc bags in a single bin, so it will be easier to organize them when you have to dispose of them.
#4. Once you have collected about 80-100 Ziploc bags, send them to recycling centers at one go. It can help in decreasing the number of trips you might have to go to the recycling center.
#5. All the plastic recycling centers take in only #2 and #4 plastic bags. So, you should make sure that the Ziploc bags you’re collecting have been manufactured using these grades of plastic.
What are the alternatives to Ziploc Bags?
We already know that the production of Ziploc bags is neither environmentally friendly nor sustainable.
The dyeing and fossil fuel industries are the world’s most polluting industries. They contribute to all kinds of pollution in air, water, and land. Therefore, it is best to avoid buying them in the first place.
But if we’re not buying Ziploc bags, what else would we use in their place?
Well, it is about time we switched to other alternatives. Let’s take a look at some of these:
#1. Ziploc bags are often used for storage, kitchens, and packing or carrying lunches and food. We must switch to stainless steel lunch boxes.
They are hygienic and go-to for picnics and travel. They are spill-proof and available in various sizes and designs.
#2. Finding alternatives for food storage can be a bit difficult. But switching to steel containers, glass storage with stainless lids, silicon storage bags can also be done.
These can be stored in refrigerators and can also be used for a long time.
#3. Organic cotton reusable bags are available in stores that can be used to keep groceries and other items. They are available in many sizes and designed to keep a different variety of stuff.
Despite these eco-friendly alternatives, most people find it challenging to switch to these due to the convenience and familiarity of the Ziploc bags.
However, we must realize how necessary it is to change. Everybody should make it a priority to limit their plastic usage whenever possible.
If we all join together, demand for eco-friendly and sustainable products will rise, and corporations will have to listen!
How can we reuse Ziploc bags?
We must try to reuse things as long as possible because reusing has numerous benefits; it saves energy, limits pollution, and reduces greenhouse emissions. Let us learn some amazing ways to reuse Ziploc bags.
You can reuse Ziploc bags as shoe protectors. They will save your footwear from dirt and dust, and then you can use them at your convenience.
Ziploc bags can also be used as gloves. These will keep your hands from getting dirty are easy to take off as well.
You can also make a jumping rope out of Ziploc bags. Create and jumping rope by tying several Ziploc bags together. This craft can keep you entertained as well as fit.
As we come to the end of this article, we’ve learned that while Ziploc bags make our daily lives simpler and more convenient, they’re not the best thing for our environment.
We understand that choosing eco-friendly and sustainable alternatives can be expensive in the short term, as it is difficult to beat the price of a $0.10 Ziploc bag.
However, in the long run, these alternatives can save resources and help us avoid chemicals that might be messing with our health.
Everyone can make a small difference in reducing their ecological footprint and adopt some simple household switches like this one.