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The Community Environmental Council (CEC) and Santa Barbara Channelkeeper (SBCK) are pleased to work together with Ablitt’s Fine Cleaners to collect and repurpose hard-to-recycle film plastics.

Here's what you can bring to CEC:

NOTE: Plastics must be empty, clean and dry in order for them to be recycled.

TIP: If the plastic stretches with your thumb and rips in a jagged edge, it is recyclable. If it crinkles and rips straight, it is not recyclable.

  • Retail, carryout, newspaper, dry cleaning bags (clean, dry and free of receipts and clothes hangers)
  • Bread bags turned INSIDE OUT and shaken free of crumbs
  • Plastic shipping envelopes (remove labels/tape), bubble wrap and air pillows (deflate)
  • Product wrap on cases of water/soda bottles, paper towels, napkins, disposable cups, bathroom tissue, diapers, and female sanitary products
  • Furniture and electronic wrap

Download printable PDF of this list here.

Here's what you can not include

  • Frozen food bags
  • Ziplock bags of any kind
  • Prewashed salad mix bags
  • Produce bags
  • Food wrap
  • Bioplastics
  • Candy bar wrappers
  • Chip bags
  • Six-pack rings

The Background

Sasha Ablitt, owner of Ablitt’s Fine Cleaners, was frustrated by the number of single-use plastic clothing sleeves generated by her business. She did some research and found a company willing to take her bags and turn them into pellets that could be made into products like outdoor decking and benches. She invested in a baling machine and for the past five years has been collecting in-house film plastic at her Gutierrez Street store.

It occurred to her during this time that she could use her baling machine for more than her own company’s use. Earlier this year, she invited the public to bring their home-separated film plastics to her business. Says Sasha: “It’s a lot of effort for our staff, but as a Santa Barbara County Certified Green Business and as an environmentalist, it’s worth it.” To date, Ablitt has provided more than 3,000 pounds of plastic to the recycler.

In the past few years, recycling brokers have stopped buying these film plastics from commingled recycling programs. This has left the consumer with little choice except to throw away film plastics – which includes plastic shopping bags and bubble wrap as well as the bags and thin plastic used to wrap bread, produce, paper goods, and newspapers. The film plastics that are recovered from commingled recycling programs contain contaminants from other materials placed in the recycling containers (i.e. glass shards and food waste), giving them no value. Derek Carlson, MarBorg Industries’ Business Manager states: “Unlike the plastics from a commingled program, Ablitt’s consumer-driven, source-separated film plastic return program produces a high-quality material that can be effectively used in a specialty reuse process.”

Partners Join In

Kathi King, CEC’s Director of Outreach and Education, comments, “When we learned what Ablitt’s was doing, we immediately realized they might be inundated. We wanted to partner with them both to divert these materials from the landfill and to give them new life.”

CEC and SBCK have partnered on single-use plastics reduction in our region for more than a decade. Working together, they have successfully advocated for bans on plastic bags, Styrofoam food containers, and the recent straw/stirrer ban in the City of Santa Barbara. While both organizations believe that the best single-use plastic is the one that isn’t used in the first place, they also recognize that it’s very difficult to get our usage down to zero.

“Those of us who attempt to live ‘plastic free’ still end up with bread bags, Amazon ‘air pillows’ and the like. It’s especially important to be mindful of our disposable items during the holidays as the average household’s waste increases by 25% between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day,” observes Penny Owens, SBCK’s Education and Community Outreach Director.

Drop Off Centers

The CEC and SBCK offices will now be additional drop-off locations for post-consumer film plastic. In addition to the Ablitt’s drop-off at 14 W. Gutierrez St., community members can also drop off to CEC at 26 W. Anapamu St., 2nd Floor (near Chapala) or to SBCK at 714 Bond Ave. (near Milpas) between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Download a printable PDF of which film plastics you can and can not recycle.

Look for the green bins located just inside the main entrances and thank you in advance for participating!

Looking for styrofoam recycling?

Take all clean, dry styrofoam to Heal the Ocean at 1430 Chapala Street where it will be shipped to Foam Fabricators in Compton for repurposing. Learn more about how you can recycle styrofoam yourself here.

Kathi King

Director of Outreach and Education Programs at Community Environmental Council
Kathi King is the Director of Outreach and Education Programs at CEC and plays a key role in organizing CEC’s Earth Day Festival and Green Gala. Kathi is behind CEC’s Rethink the Drink bottled water reduction program in area schools. She is on the board of the Montecito Association and on the Sustainability Committee at Santa Barbara High School.

Kathi has a B.S. degree in Telecommunications and Film from San Diego State University and worked in the television industry in Los Angeles for several years.She was an Associate Producer of the still-popular sitcom “Full House.” Kathi and her husband Jeff moved to Santa Barbara in 1998. Their two children attended Santa Barbara public schools for grades K-12 and Kathi served on several PTA boards and committees between 1998 and 2015.She did post-graduate work in Environmental Studies at Santa Barbara City College, where a class project led to Santa Barbara’s single use plastic bag ban.
Kathi King

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