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Iowa Grocery Industry Association Offers Build With Bags Grants

Build with Bags Grants

Iowa’s grocers are offering help to communities that want to spruce up a park, school playground, recreation trail and more with a Build with Bags Grant from the Iowa Grocery Industry Association (IGIA). The Build with Bags program awards grants of up to $2,000 for purchases of picnic tables, park benches, planters and playground equipment made of recycled plastic.

The deadline to apply for a grant is March 30.

“We want to encourage community groups to apply for these grants even if they’ve applied in the past,” said IGIA President Michelle Hurd. “Grocers care about the environment, and they express this care and concern through the Build with Bags grant program.”

After 10 years, the Build with Bags Grants program has donated $335,562 to more than 195 schools and parks across the state and kept hundreds of thousands of plastic bags out of landfills.

The idea is to use the money from the Build with Bags Grants to increase plastic bag recycling efforts throughout Iowa, and it’s working, according to Hurd. Approximately 10,600 plastic bags are used in the making of one park bench, and more than 20,000 are used to make a picnic table.

“The program takes an innovative approach to encourage individuals to recycle their plastic bags so those bags can be turned into products that beautify our communities,” Hurd said. “It gives Iowans a firsthand look at what happens to their plastic bags when they are recycled and demonstrates our industry’s commitment to the environment. Our members feel strongly that everybody wins when we recycle.”

Grocers play an instrumental role in securing the Build with Bags grants for their communities. Grant applicants must obtain an endorsement letter from a local grocer who is supportive of the community’s project and recycling plans.

“While the endorsement letter is not the only factor in the selection process, it is one of the most vital to the Build with Bags program,” Hurd said. “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 for the Build with Bags program. The other three include increasing the number of plastic bags recycled, reducing consumption of plastic bags and increasing use of reusable bags.

Participating retailers include Fareway and Hy-Vee locations as well as many independent grocers throughout the state.

The program will give thousands of dollars to Iowa schools and parks again in 2020 to purchase park benches, picnic tables, planters and trash receptacles made from recycled plastic bags. The IGIA works with Plastic Recycling of Iowa Falls to supply the recycled products.                                                        

Build with Bags is a cooperative effort of the IGIA, Keep Iowa Beautiful, Metro Waste Authority in Des Moines and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Applications are currently being accepted for the 2020 calendar year. Details on how to apply, as well as selection criteria, are outlined at

Grants recipients will be announced in conjunction with Earth Day on Wednesday, April 22. Notification will be made directly to each grant recipient and sponsoring IGIA member.

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