Iowa Grocers Award 15 Build with Bags Grants in 2019


Iowa Grocers Award 15 Build with Bags Grants in 2019

City parks and schools throughout Iowa will soon have new park benches, planters or picnic tables courtesy of the Iowa Grocery Industry Association’s Build with Bags program.

Fifteen Iowa communities will be receiving grants of up to $2,000 to purchase items made from recycled plastic bags. Items include park benches made by Plastic Recycling of Iowa Falls. One park bench represents approximately 10,600 bags that won’t end up in the landfill.

“We are excited to announce the winners of the Build with Bags grant program,” says Michelle Hurd, president of the Iowa Grocery Industry Association. “Now in its 10th year, the Build with Bags program continues to encourage individuals to recycle their plastic bags so those bags can be turned into products that beautify our communities. This year’s grant winners are reaping the rewards of their recycling efforts, and we hope other communities will follow suit and expand their recycling efforts.”

A total of 35 applications were submitted from which 15 winners were selected by a committee of three representatives in support of the Build with Bags program. Each committee member individually scored applications. The scores were then combined for an overall point total. This year, the top 15 applicants with the most points received grants totaling $28,099.70

Applications were evaluated based on set criteria that included a statement of need for the grant and the community’s own plastic bag recycling efforts. Grant applicants were also asked to verify the recycled plastic content in the products they were looking to purchase and obtain an endorsement letter from a local grocer who is supportive of the community’s project and recycling plans.

Geographic location also played a factor as the committee wanted to disperse the grant awards throughout the state of Iowa. Local Iowa grocers played an important role in making the grants possible. Store representatives throughout the state wrote letters of support that led to their communities being selected to receive a grant.

“While the endorsement letter was not the most weighted category in the selection process, it is an important component of the Build with Bags program,” Hurd explains. “In the program committee’s eyes, it reflects how the applying community is working with its local grocers to establish long-term projects and goals that help increase the awareness of plastic bag recycling.”

Encouraging purchases of furniture and equipment made from recycled plastic for parks and schools through its grant program is one of four goals established by Build with Bags partners. The other three include increasing the amount of plastic bags recycled, reducing consumption of plastic bags and increasing the safe use of reusable bags.

Participating retailers include Fareway Stores and Hy-Vee locations statewide plus many independent grocers.

Build with Bags, a cooperative effort of the Iowa Grocery Industry Association, Keep Iowa Beautiful, Metro Waste Authority in Des Moines and Iowa Department of Natural Resources, was originally launched in August 2009. Now in its tenth year, the Build with Bags Grant program has awarded $312,224.22 in grants to more than 200 Iowa communities.

For more information on Build with Bags or its grant program opportunities, visit