The Case for Reusables in Fairfax County

What’s so great about reusables?

Thousands of single use plastics litter our county. How often do you see a reusable plastic item as litter?

Get the facts:

If our trash is incinerated in Fairfax County, why are single use plastics a problem?

  • Thanks to their light weight, plastic bags, bottles, straws, and styrofoam in trucks, trash cans, and dumpsters don’t always stay there. They are likely to fly away and can settle in trees, block storm drains, or flow into streams and clutter beaches.
  • An estimated one million birds, 100,000 turtles, and countless other sea animals die each year from entanglement and ingesting plastic.
  • Roughly 2% of plastic bags (Source: EPA) and, at best, 37% of water bottles (International Bottled Water Association) are recycled in the United States. Most people just throw them away.
  • While plastics do create lots of energy when they are burned, they also produce a highly toxic chemical called dioxin.

But I reuse my plastic bags as trash can liners, muddy shoe totes, etc. What’s wrong with that?

  • Plastics are made from petroleum products and natural gas, both non-renewable resources, and their manufacture helps to drive up gas prices. It takes 12 million barrels of oil to produce the plastic bags and 17 million barrels of oil to produce the plastic bottles that the U.S. uses every year. (Source: EPA)
  • While the plastics bag may have a second or even a third and fourth reuse, once it is dirty, it cannot be recycled and ends up in the waste stream.

Well at least I recycle my bags at the grocery store and put my bottles in the recycle bin. Surely that’s enough!

  • Collection is costly
  • Sorting is necessary and cost-intensive
  • Quality and cleanliness are critical issues—and hard to maintain
  • The market for used plastic bags is limited (Source: Eureka Recycling)


DOWNLOADABLE PDF VERSION:…/The-Case-for-Reusables-in-Fairfax-County-1.pdf