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Pandemic Causing Increase Of Plastic Bags And Take-Out Containers Being Thrown Away

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) - The pandemic has forced many to order delivery or take-out and many grocery stores won't let customers bring reusable bags inside any more, resulting in more plastic bags and take-out containers ending up in the trash.

"It's strange in this brand new world we've changed so much of our world," said Patrick Mulvaney, owner of Mulvaney's B & L restaurant in Sacramento.

Every day has been a learning experience for Mulvaney. While the most important goal is to get food to people in need, he's also thinking about the mounds of delivery containers piling up.

"Each of them [meals] wrapped in a bag a box or a bundle and so that's a lot of cardboard and a lot of paper," said Mulvaney.

His workers are packaging up to 4,000 meals every week

"It's a challenge because we're using so many to-go containers right now. The good news is we're throwing out less stuff here, but everything we're throwing out is 100% compostable and recyclable.

So then it all comes down to how his customers recycle at home. Sacramento County Waste Management and Recycling says it's seeing a 12% increase compared to this time last year.

"It's Spring cleaning so this is typically a really busy time of year but it's been especially busy this year," said spokesperson Laurie Slothower.

Slothower says with the increase in to-go containers, it's critical every piece of food is cleaned out before it's tossed in the recycle bin. Plus, plastic bags cannot be placed in the bins because they get caught up in the machinery.

"Cardboard boxes can be recycled but you have to be so careful with pizza boxes, one splotch of grease can ruin an entire bale of otherwise recyclable cardboard," said Slothower.

Sacramento County launched the SacGreenTeam Mobile App showing you exactly what's recyclable and how to get rid of it.

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