Recycling program geared to solving blowing plastic problem

The city has taken its first step toward making the familiar sight of windblown plastic bags a thing of the past.

At Thursday night's meeting of the Clean City Commission, Trish Hart, a lobbyist with the Arizona Food Marketing Alliance, presented the future for Kingman's plastic problem - Bag Central Station.

Bag Central Station is the centerpiece of a voluntary recycling program to be implemented at local supermarkets, with Safeway, Bashas' and Wal-Mart already agreeing to participate.

But while plastic bag recycling bins have already long since been available at these stores, the Bag Central Station campaign is designed to increase their visibility and raise further awareness for recycling throughout the community.

"It's a public relations marketing campaign to get people to recycle," Hart said. "We want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem."

The program was implemented in Phoenix five months ago and has since been reaching out across Arizona. It takes a three-pronged approach to plastic bag use: reducing the number of bags used, reusing bags and recycling plastic bags after use.

To help the community become more aware, grocery stores will agree to place recycling bins emblazoned with the program's bright green logo in prominent locations at their stores. In addition, all carry-out plastic bags will bear the same logo and the "reduce, reuse, recycle" credo, and stores will also take in any and all recyclable plastic bags, regardless of their origin. This will include plastic dry cleaning bags and even the wrappers the Miner comes in.

"The grocery stores will serve as a collection point," Hart said. "We're starting out with the grocery stores, but we would definitely encourage any of the other retailers to get involved as well."

When Hart asked the commission for additional input, chairwoman Lenore Knudtson lauded the proposal, but brought up Kingman's fierce winds and asked about the possibility of installing hooded recycle bins in outdoor areas, as well as green windbreaks to keep bags confined to supermarket property. Hart said she would take the suggestions back to the AFMA for their consideration.

"Anything we can do to help end the problem, we're willing to do that," she said.

Hart said the campaign would cost the city nothing to implement, and that as soon as the commission could figure a date for implementation, the AFMA would prepare press releases and promotional materials for the rollout. The commission members said they hoped to kick off the campaign in conjunction with the Roving Dumpster and Recycling Cleanup scheduled at the Mohave County Fairgrounds April 26. Principal Planner Rich Ruggles will be working with Hart over the coming month to confirm all the details as the event draws closer.