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The PROP Shop: Recycling With a Purpose

Eden Prairie’s Plastic Bag Recycling Initiative

Life is rife with irony. Take plastic bags, for example. They are meant to be used only once, yet it takes over 1,000 years for one of the wispy things to degrade. Even then, they only become microplastics which continue to pollute the environment.

And there are a lot of plastic bags. Americans use 100 billion of them annually, the vast majority of which are never recycled. The 2018 International Coastal Cleanup recovered nearly two million plastic bags alone.

The PROP Shop of Eden Prairie will not save every sea turtle from ruin, but their volunteers are making a difference all the same. Thanks to their partnerships with Trex and Cub Foods, the non-profit donation center and resale store will have recycled over half a ton of plastic bags in 2022.

“I retired from a Fortune 50 company just over a year ago,” said Pat McNallan. “With my newfound freedom, I decided to volunteer at The PROP Shop and begin giving back to a community which has always treated me so well. 

“Our mission is to help families in Eden Prairie and Chanhassen. We provide clothing, furniture, mattresses and bed frames to people who are less fortunate, and gratefully accept donations from anyone who would like to support the local community. But as you might imagine, our local benefactors leave us with an enormous amount of plastic bags as well – about 300 to 400 bags every day.

“Packing our dumpster with so many bags felt disheartening. Fortunately Vicki Bomben, our operations manager, saw the phone number on city hall’s recycling bin. I gave them a call to see what could be done. That’s how we discovered the Trex Plastic Film Recycling Challenge, a program which accepts used plastic bags that the company upscales into high-quality plastic decking.

“Thus I became the bag maestro alongside my co-worker Jack Engel. Black, white, gray, blue, yellow or clear: If it is a bag and made of plastic, I bring it to Cub Foods in Chanhassen every week so Trex can take it to their factory. Trex requires 2,250 individual plastic bags to make a single board, but we expect to earn our second park bench by the end of the year. I believe that is a glamorous reward for all our volunteers’ hard work.

“Even the most tattered plastic bag is worthy of transformation into Trex decking. But whenever we receive an intact black garbage bag, which has no holes and never once contained garbage, we fold it up neatly and give it away to any of the families we serve at The PROP Shop. It’s just one extra way we can do something good for people.”

If you would like to support The PROP Shop, please fill your plastic bags with useful things – especially winter coats – and bring them to 15195 Martin Drive in Eden Prairie Tuesday through Saturday between 10 am and 3 pm.

  • Jack Engel
  • Pat McNallan

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