According to CalRecycle no more than 3 percent of plastic bags are recycled, in spite of the fact that there are bins at all major grocery stores, large retailers and pharmacies. The majority of bags are never recycled or are disposed of improperly; most end up in landfills or waterways. Because we are unable to recycle the bags locally, our only option is to dispose of them into the gray trash containers (which go to the landfill); however many end up in the blue recycling bins, ultimately jamming recycling equipment, resulting in costly work stoppages.
The approximately 1,000 pounds of plastic bags that Napa Recycling and Waste Services (NRWS) collects each day are baled and have little value. This low-grade film plastic has no domestic market and is shipped to Asia, at a cost that is at much more than their value, according to NRWS. There is another potential cost beyond transporting them to another country as well: processing in Asia may be subject to fewer environmental controls, adding further strain on the environment.