Polyethylene Film Recycling Program Saves Resources and Diverts from Landfills

Plastic Packaging Perspectives

Polyethylene Film Recycling

It all began with one dry cleaner’s call-to-action—a request to their garment bag provider, N.S. Farrington, to find a solution, and recycle the polyethylene film garment bags customers returned to the store.  Farrington responded by developing and implementing a plastic bag and film recycling program in 2010.  The effort has now expanded to well over 100 stores throughout Farrington’s distributor network in North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, Virginia, and Georgia– and it won’t stop there.  Farrington’s Chief Executive Officer Clint Harris says, “our poly recycling program, which started as a pilot with a few customers in North Carolina, is now being offered to our customers in five states as we work toward one hundred percent customer participation.”

Commitment to Polyethylene Film Recycling Pays

Recently, N.S. Farrington reported diverting and recycling more than 10 tons of recyclable polyethylene film this year, saving natural resources and valuable landfill space.  Ten tons of recycled PE film saves 6,850 gallons of oil and 2,700 cubic feet of landfill space. A great part of Farrington’s recent success has been in-sourcing their polyethylene film recycling system. They now process and bale the plastics collected directly from their customers. This recycled film is then sold to an industry-leading manufacturer of plastic decking products.

Film Recycling Continues to Grow

Nationally, the recycling of plastic film topped one billion pounds for the first time in 2012, according to the latest report—and film recycling has grown 56 percent since just 2005.  The quickly climbing growth rate is thanks, in part, to efforts by enthusiastic organizations like N.S. Farrington.  Read more about Farrington’s efforts and results in their recent press release and case study.  Learn what it took for this company to get their polyethylene film recycling program off the ground.  They’re pretty proud of making a difference!

I Want To Be Recycled

Plastic Packaging Perspectives

Bench_I want to be recycled

This is a guest blog post written by Christina Kiernan, Manager, Marketing Communications at Keep America Beautiful.

Imagine a water bottle that dreams of becoming a pair of jeans, a steel can that hopes to
someday be transformed into a bicycle, or a plastic shampoo bottle that believes that, one day, it could become a park bench. These are some of the many destinies that could be fulfilled if more Americans took time to do one thing: recycle their plastic packaging and other materials.

A public service advertising (PSA) campaign introduced by the Ad Council and Keep America Beautiful (KAB) aims to inspire the nearly two in three Americans* who do not recycle regularly to make recycling a part of their daily lives. Despite increased visibility of public recycling receptacles and increased curbside programs, levels of recycling have plateaued at less than 35 percent.[1]

The I Want To Be Recycled campaign aims to motivate Americans to recycle every day.
Created by San Francisco-based ad agency Pereira & O’Dell, the campaign artfully shows that recyclable materials can be given another life when someone chooses to recycle. Showing that a plastic bottle, metal can or other recyclable item has dreams to become something new is a very powerful yet simple way to deliver the message.

The I Want To Be Recycled campaign made its public debut in July 2013 and includes TV, radio, outdoor, online, social and mobile PSAs.  The American Chemistry Council’s Plastics Division is a founding sponsor of the campaign.

TV spots include both English and Spanish language versions. The English-language campaign directs audiences to IWantToBeRecycled.org, while the new Spanish PSAs drive to Quieroserreciclado.org.

In its first year, the recycling campaign secured more than $50 million in donated media. It gained the most donated media amongst all Ad Council campaigns in Q1 of 2014. Cities are also joining in on the campaign. These include Austin, Chicago, Akron, and Madison, among others. Waste haulers are wrapping their trucks with the campaign graphics. Grocery outlets are putting our I Want To Be Recycled logos on their cardboard boxes.

Visit IWantToBeRecycled.org to get a behind-the-scenes look at how trash can be
transformed through recycling. While you are there, learn about common recycling myths, and get details about recycling locations near you. Then, share it with everyone you know.  Post it to your Facebook page, tweet it to your followers.  Urge your company to post links to it on the organization’s website.

Follow our recycling conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #berecycled or like Keep America Beautiful on Facebook.

[1] United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) 2012 Municipal Solid Waste Report http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/nonhaz/municipal/pubs/2012_msw_fs.pdf

*38% or respondents to Ad Council survey, prior to campaign launch, said they were “avid recyclers”, recycling as much as possible and willing to go out of their way to do so.

Christina_Kiernan

Christina Kiernan joined the communications department at Keep America Beautiful in September 2012. Christina has key accountabilities for the successful “I Want To Be Recycled” campaign as well as for the development and execution of comprehensive KAB strategies & messaging for various social media platforms.

Plastic Recovery and Recycling: An Essential Solution to Halting Marine Debris Buildup

Rachael Miller

If plastic bags were made of gold, we certainly wouldn’t throw them away. We wouldn’t watch them drift down the street and into storm drains. We wouldn’t let them float into harbors and, from there, into the ocean.

Of course, plastic bags aren’t gold.  And yet, they also have value. Plastic packaging of all sorts can be recycled into new materials and products. They are too valuable to waste, but that’s what we often do, discard them mindlessly and starting them on journeys that end in vast fields of marine debris.

The packaging and recycling communities can play a key role in keeping plastic packaging out of the marine environment. Active plastic recycling and recovery, particularly near coastal areas, is critical to keeping valuable resources out of the ocean. At Rozalia Project, we are dedicated to promoting a clean, protected, and thriving ocean, and my recent presentation at TEDxLowell, “We Can Clean the Ocean,” which you can watch now at the link, shared our findings on the glut of marine debris and how plastic recovery and recycling can help minimize the devastation.

When we think of marine debris, many of us picture the oft-reported and consistently hyperbolized garbage patches spinning in the giant oceanic surface currents known as gyres. But as you’ll see in the TEDxLowell video, the problem begins at the shore, in harbors and waterways cluttered with a stream of trash that amasses in almost unfathomable quantities. Once ocean debris reaches the water, two factors complicate clean-up – the need to separate out organic matter, and the degradation of plastics into smaller and smaller pieces that we just can’t collect.

A great deal of effort to resolve this issue has concentrated on the gyres, but the more Rachael Miller_Marine Debrisattainable solution is here at the land-sea interface. We can make measurable strides by keeping debris out of coastal harbors and waterways in the first place. Through recovery and recycling of plastic packaging here on land, we can heighten our impact considerably by capturing the materials before they break up out at sea – and just as importantly, keep many of those materials in an active, useful loop rather than sending them to landfills.

How the value chain can help

The recycling and packaging industries can play a key role through several steps:

  • Responsibly reduce the amount of packaging used in the first place. Innovations in plastic are facilitating the creation of more efficient packaging, requiring less packaging material. The industry can create 100% recyclable packaging out of 100% recycled material and encourage recycling of products at the end of their lifecycles.
  • Invest in more waste-to-energy solutions. Huge advances are being made by diverting material from non-recycled plastics into valuable energy.
  • Help communities provide easy access to trash and recycling bins, and make sure they’re emptied faster than they’re filled. We’ve all seen those public trash cans and plastic recycling bins filled to overflowing. When recyclables spill onto the ground, that’s not recycling anymore.
  • Support educational programs to boost awareness about recycling and recovery of packaging and keeping it out of the marine environment.
  • Sponsor local clean-ups to recover material along beaches, waterways and coastal harbors.

It’s time to highlight these conversations among key audiences – consumers, the packaging value chain, and the recycling community – that will drive changes in behavior. My TEDxLowell video lays out the issue, including images that illustrate the vast scope of the problem.. A solution is where the land meets the sea, and every bit matters.

Healthcare plastics and glass aggregate breakthroughs win Recycling Innovators Forum prizes

Plastic Packaging Perspectives

Two winners emerged from the groundbreaking ideas presented at the second annual Recycling Innovators Forum – a plan to scale healthcare plastics recycling to a regional level, and a color-coded, multi-purpose glass aggregate.

healthcare plastics recycling innovators

Forum finalists

The Recycling Innovators Forum was held in New Orleans on Sept. 15, 2014, co-located with the 2014 Resource Recycling Conference. Eight finalists selected from more than 60 entries competed for the top $20,000 prize awarded in each of two categories.

Ruby Lake Glass LLC won the garage innovator prize for its manufacture of color-coated recycled glass useful for road demarcation, mulch, flooring, tile and countertops, pools, and crafts and artwork.

The Healthcare Plastics Recycling Council won the enterprise/institution prize for its Regional Healthcare Plastics Recycling Demonstration Project. By mid-2015, the project will convene several hospitals and a recycler in one region to demonstrate large-scale opportunities for recovering and recycling non-infectious healthcare plastics.

“Being able to communicate and articulate this opportunity to the recycling community through the Recycling Innovators Forum is part of our goal,” said Peylina Chu, senior consultant at environmental consultancy Antea Group, who gave HPRC’s presentation. “This can be a model for how to build a healthcare recycling program in any major metropolitan area.”

Learn more about the Regional Healthcare Plastics Recycling Demonstration Project, its goals, and lessons learned from local pilot studies in our previous post.

Plastic Packaging: The Silent Hero Behind Your Fresh Cup of Coffee

Plastic Packaging Perspectives

coffee plastic packagingSeptember 29th is National Coffee Day. But let’s face it, for many Americans, no national day is needed to validate the importance of the brew. According to the National Coffee Association, Americans consume 400 million cups of coffee each day.   Some of us don’t even consider the day as officially starting, until we’ve had that first cup of Joe. Whether your preference is espresso, latte, frappe, or just plain old coffee, it’s a beverage at the very heart of many people’s daily lives.  40% of 18-24 year olds said they drink coffee daily, while 54% of 25-39 year olds said they drink coffee daily. [1] If you grab your coffee on the go, chances are, its staying hot while your hand stays cool thanks to a polystyrene foam cup—like the kind you get at most fast food restaurants. In celebration of National Coffee Day, and the foam cup’s role in delivering so much of the java we love, our good friends at the Polystyrene Foam Food Service Group posted a very cool blog with info on polystyrene foam food packaging. Check it out. And, want to see more cool coffee packaging? Check out our new coffee packaging Pinterest board, celebrating coffee– fresh to you, with a little help from plastic packaging!

 

[1] Specialty Coffee Association of America, Facts and Figures, 2012