Build with Bags Program Overview

The Build with Bags program is a cooperative effort of the Iowa Grocery Industry Association, Keep Iowa Beautiful, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Metro Waste Authority and Plastic Recycling of Iowa Falls. Over the course of several months, representatives of each of these organizations listened to focus groups that were convened to discuss shopping bag issues and then developed a program to assist Iowa grocers in reducing the environmental impact of shopping bags. 

In addition to decreasing the environmental footprint of shopping bags, the group sought to provide an effective alternative to plastic bag bans and the unintended consequences that often result from bans and other related regulatory efforts. The result is the Build with Bags program, which has helped to:

  1. Reduce the consumption of plastic bags,

  2. Encourage the use of reusable bags,

  3. Increase the amount of plastic bags recycled, and

  4. Establish and execute a grant program to aid parks and schools in purchasing products made of recycled plastic bags

The cornerstone of Build with Bags is a grant program, which is administered and funded by the Iowa Grocery Industry Association and provides funds for the purchase of recycled plastic playground equipment, benches and tables, and more.

The Build with Bags program empowers Iowa grocers to affect real change in reducing consumption of plastic bags and in increasing the recycling of those bags that are used. It provides a monetary incentive for communities to develop their plastic bag recycling efforts, and by using grant awards to purchase products made of recycled plastic bags for their schools and parks, they are also increasing the demand for recycled plastic products. This economic driver is often what is missing in other efforts aimed at reducing the environmental impacts of products and services. Build with Bags also provides regulators and communities a meaningful alternative to the banning of plastic bags, a practice that has been shown to have a number of negative unintended consequences.

The Build with Bags Grant Program is sponsored by the Iowa Grocery Industry Association.