Recycling of post-consumer plastic bags, films reached record high of nearly 972 million lbs. in 2010, a 14% increase from 2009, says new report

WASHINGTON , February 6, 2012 (press release) – The recycling of post-consumer plastic bags and wraps—a category known as plastic film—reached a record high of nearly 972 million pounds in 2010, according to a national report developed by Moore Recycling Associates, Inc. on behalf of the American Chemistry Council (ACC).

This represents an increase of more than 117 million pounds, or 14 percent, over 2009 and an increase of 50 percent since 2005, when Moore Recycling began tracking this category of plastics recycling. Over past five years, the recycling of plastic film grew seven times faster than recycling overall, according to data from EPA.

ACC attributes the recent uptick in plastics film recycling to a combination of increased access to collection points via grocery and retail chains, better labeling on bags, and a rise in consumer awareness. Recovered polyethylene film is used to make durable plastic and composite lumber for outdoor decks and fencing, home building products, garden products, crates, piping, and new film packaging like plastic bags.

To continue building on the growth of plastics film recycling, ACC has formed a new Flexible Film Recycling Group (FFRG). The new group includes members representing the full plastics film value chain, from resin suppliers to film manufacturers, brand owners and recyclers.

“We’re excited to see strong growth in the recycling of plastic bags and wraps and even more excited about opportunities for increased recycling in the near future,” said Steve Russell, Vice President of Plastics for the American Chemistry Council. “The FFRG looks forward to working with all parts of the polyethylene film value chain to make it even simpler to recover and recycle this valuable plastic material,” Russell added.

Initially, the FFRG will focus on increasing plastics film recycling by improving consumer awareness and promoting the growth of recycling infrastructure, particularly among smaller and mid-sized retailers, dry cleaners and other outlets.

The FFRG plans to expand the “A Bag’s Life,” consumer education campaign to include other plastic product wraps and to partner with the Association of Postconsumer Plastics Recyclers and other allied trade groups to bolster the recovery of plastic film.

Founding members of FFRG include Avanguard, Dow Chemical, ExxonMobil, SC Johnson, Sealed Air, and Trex.

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