An Innovative, Voluntary Approach to Collecting Plastic Bags and Film


S.C.R.A.P. is a for-profit branch of the non-profit California Grey Bears that works in conjunction with Santa Cruz County to provide a convenient way for local businesses to recycle film, as well as cardboard. They offer a pickup service and they accept cardboard and film/bags dropped off at their facility. They service 200+ businesses in Santa Cruz.

Recycling Program

S.C.R.A.P. provides cardboard and film/bag pickup as well as bags, bins, and education to local businesses for a fee. The fee structure is based on the bin size, number of bins and the frequency of pickup. S.C.R.A.P. currently services 228 customers with their pickup service. Businesses can also drop off material at the S.C.R.A.P. facility. They recover film from back end operations and bags from the public. They primarily tell people to recycle “stretch film plastic”. In order to store material until pickup S.C.R.A.P. rents out bins to the customers by month to store the film/bags. The blue bin below is representative of the rented bins.

Internal Operations

Staff and volunteers carry out the tasks to run this program. They currently have an operations manager, 5 employees, 1 part-time bookkeeper, 2 truck drivers, and 1 part-time, fill-in driver who services their bins and does other duties as needed. They use front- and rear-load trucks to pick up the material. They bring the material back to their facility, sort, bale and then the material goes to market. Film is one of their biggest revenue sources when the market is good. Their biggest challenge has been finding contaminants, anything other than cardboard or film, in the bins. They store most of their material outside due to space.

As represented in the picture above, they have a recycling center at their main location on Chanticleer, where they receive recyclables from the public and process materials. They also operate the recycling center at the Santa Cruz County Buena Vista dumpsite.


The S.C.R.A.P. program collects 50 tons of film and bags per month. They collect 15 tons of plastic film per month from the 228 clients they serve on their pick up route and they receive 35 tons of film/bags (#2 & #4) per month through their drop off location. Out of the total 50 tons per month, about 15 tons come from back-end operations and the other 35 tons are bags. Plastic film contributes about 20% of the S.C.R.A.P. program’s revenue.

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