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AG Ellison files lawsuit against Hefty bags and Walmart

Ellison contends the bags are made from low-density polyethylene, which cannot be processed at recycling facilities.

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison is filing a lawsuit against Walmart and Reynolds Consumer Products, the parent company of Hefty bags, saying the two companies are deceiving consumers through their marketing of so-called "recycling" bags.

Ellison contends Reynolds' Hefty Recycling Bags and Walmart's Great Value-brand "recycling drawstring bags" are both made from low-density polyethylene, which cannot be processed at recycling facilities.

The bags force recycling centers to shut down "two to three times a day to untangle the machinery," according to a news release, with about $75,000 per year lost in productivity and revenue at northeast Minneapolis-based Eureka Recycling.

"We Minnesotans love our natural environment and value our clean land, air, and water: that's why we have one of the highest recycling rates in America," Attorney General Ellison said in the release. "Reynolds and Walmart, however, are taking advantage of Minnesotans' good intentions to misleadingly market so-called 'recycling' bags to us that can't be recycled and actually harm recycling."

Eureka Recycling insists too that tossing recyclable items into a plastic bag and putting that bag out for pickup, is a big waste.

"If you put your recycling in a bag, all the material and that bag will actually end up going to the incinerator or the landfill," copresident Lynn Hoffman said.

She says the plastic bags are also too dangerous to keep and sort.

"First of all they can wrap around equipment, they can cause fires," she said. "Then even if they get through, they end up with the paper and that's contamination. Our paper recycler doesn't want plastic, right? And so that ends up lowering the value of the materials that we are trying to get recycled."

From small shopping bags to the ones holding recyclables, Hoffman says households can do their part by reusing plastic bags, not recycling them. Many retailers such as grocery stores accept plastic bags through store drop-off programs.

KARE 11 reached out to Reynolds Consumer Products for comment and it replied: "We cannot comment on pending litigation, thank you."

Meanwhile, Walmart released a statement saying: "Walmart does not manufacture these items and look to our suppliers to provide quality products that comply with all applicable laws, including labeling requirements. We will respond in Court as appropriate once we are served."


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