MALVERN, Iowa (KMTV) – Paper or plastic? It is no longer a question that we ask ourselves too much. Most grocery stores only offer plastic bags or give you the option of bringing your own.

But Iowa grocers want to make sure that if you choose plastic, it’s going to be put to good use when you’re done.

For 12 years, the Iowa Grocery Industry Association has been Building with bags, offering grants to communities to purchase materials made from plastic bags.

“When you bring your plastic recycling bags back to the grocery store, we kind of wanted to close the loop and show consumers what’s going on with them,” said Michelle Hurd, president of the Iowa Grocery Industry Association. .

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Benches, planters and playgrounds, the Build with Bag program has created hundreds of pieces that can be found throughout the state.

The Town of Malvern recently received $ 2,000 under the Park Bench Purchase Program to develop its walking trail at Boehner Pond.

“We’re trying to make it an all-inclusive space so that people of all skill levels or abilities can come out and enjoy the pond,” said Natalie Lancial of the city’s Health Hometown Coalition. “Having several benches for people who want to walk shorter distances or just have a place to rest, I think it will really help improve the use of our pond here.

The grant will fund seven benches, each made up of more than 10,000 plastic bags.

“Some of the wooden benches that are the memorial benches, they just don’t last that long,” Lancial said. “So why not use a great recycled product that is also very durable?”

Hurd says over the past 12 years, they have awarded more than $ 365,000 to more than 250 communities across the state, with millions of plastic bags given a second life.

“These dollars are really going a long way,” said Hurd. “You can really see the positive impact this is having on the communities of the state of Iowa.”

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