(Happy America Recycles Day! Throughout the week of November 15th, we’re featuring voices from the value chain on important packaging recyclability issues. We’re publishing thoughts from brand owners, recyclers, retailers and others within our industry on why plastics recycling matters. Our blog series has already featured pieces from Patti Olenick, Sustainability Manager for Weis Markets and Steve Sikra, Section Head of Research and Development for Procter & Gamble. Today’s post today is from Shari Jackson Director of the American Chemistry Council’s Flexible Film Recycling Group.)
Happy America Recycles Day! Today in our offices here at the American Chemistry Council, we’re spreading the word about the Wrap Recycling Action Program (WRAP). We’ve asked all employees, across all divisions to show up at our staff lounge with their plastic film product wraps and bags and drop them in our PE film recycling bin. The bin has been available in our staff lounge for years and staff make good use of it, but we thought America Recycles Day was a great time to reinforce the message that plastic film product wrap and bag recycling is important.
— American Chemistry (@AmChemistry) November 15, 2017
Recycling Polyethylene Plastic Film Matters
This category of plastics recycling is one of the fastest growing. In 2015, we recycled more than a billion pounds of plastic bags and wraps in the United States – that’s an increase of 80 percent in just 10 years. We look forward to seeing these recycling numbers continue to grow, because of programs like the Wrap Recycling Action Program (WRAP).
Plastic bag and wrap recycling is a very broad category of plastics recycling, when we consider the number of products that can be recycled together. WRAP programs are designed to educate residents about the many plastic bags and wraps that can be recycled together. These include things such as grocery and retail bags, dry cleaning bags, bread bags, and newspaper bags, along with plastics in food packaging and product wraps from paper towels, bathroom tissue, diapers, and cases of soft drinks. Check out the full list of materials.
These plastic bags and wraps generally aren’t accepted by most municipal curbside recycling programs. But, residents can simply gather their clean and dry bags and wraps in a plastic shopping bag at home… and then deposit that bag in a storefront recycling bin at participating grocery and retail stores.
We Have to Lead the Way and Spread the Word
All of this plastic material is valuable to recyclers. When we spread the word about the availability of the WRAP program, we empower more communities to take advantage of free tools that, ultimately, can help better meet waste diversion goals.
A growing number of states and cities implement the WRAP campaign to help educate their residents about properly recycling plastic bags and wraps at participating area grocery and retail stores. For example, North Carolina implemented a WRAP campaign after officials found that residents in Mecklenburg County were placing plastic bags and wraps in curbside bins, causing equipment damage at the local materials recovery facility. A survey of county residents found that only half were aware certain plastics shouldn’t be placed in curbside recycling bins. (Read more municipal case studies and stories.)
Retailers are also seeing the benefits of WRAP. Wegmans recycles more than 4 million pounds of plastic bags, product wraps and back-of-store film wrap packaging each year. Much of the material is used to make new grocery bags for chain’s 80+ stores. Read more about Wegmans success.
What Are You Doing to Champion WRAP?
As an industry, we can help grow this program just by spreading the word. Brand owners– have you asked stores that carry your products if they collect film? Packaging designers, have you visited your local grocery store to look for store front bag and film recycling bins? Retailers, are you recycling film? If the answer to any of these questions is no, you’ve got work to do! This America Recycles Day, take action in whatever way you can to become a “WRAP Champion.” We need you!
Happy America Recycles Day! Read more about why recycling matters.