An environmentally-minded shopper found himself thwarted when he tried to recycle plastic bags at two major retailers:

“While [big store 1] offers recycling for plastic bags near its entrance at many stores, while there for work reasons near the return counter, I see countless bags that are part of returns being simply thrown into the garbage along with random waste (i.e. not recycled materials). It appears to me that those amounts far surpass what is being collected near the entrances… But for me, [big store 2] is as bad or worse as I have not noticed a store that offers bag recycling at all and they do the same thing, simply throw away bags that are part of returns. What strikes me is that both of these corporations take credit for being socially proactive…”

A recent United Nations report on trash in the oceans reports that plastic bags are a major villain, threatening sea creatures and washing up on beaches. What should retailers do to take responsibility for their plastic bags? Should we ban the things altogether, like China has? Could you live without them?

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