and film recycling hits record
The recycling of plastic bags and film reached
a record high across the United States in 2008, continuing a
growing national recycling trend.
An estimated 832,394,000 pounds of post-consumer film (including
plastic bags and product wraps) were recovered in 2008, according
to the latest National Post-Consumer Recycled Plastic Bags and
Film Report. This represents a 28 percent increase in bag and
film recycling since 2005.
The boost in recycling was driven by greater consumer access
to collection programs, primarily at large grocery and retail
stores, as well as by new markets for these recycled materials.
The recycling report was conducted by Moore Recycling Associates,
Inc. of Sonoma, California, based on information obtained from
79 domestic processors, end-users of film material and exporters.
The recycling numbers reported likely understate actual bag and
film recycling because export data is more difficult to obtain
than data on domestic recycling, and in 2008 there was a shift
toward export markets, according to the report. Data collection
also was affected by the rapid spike in the number of collection
programs as many stores launched new programs to recover post-consumer
plastic bags and product wraps from their customers. There are
now retail store collection programs in all 50 states.
The increasing number of bag and film recycling programs are
being led, in part, by plastic bag makers. Last year, the Progressive
Bag Affiliates announced a landmark recycling goal of 40 percent
recycled content in all plastic shopping bags made by these companies
To help reach that goal, plastic bag maker Hilex Poly expanded
its recycling operations in North Vernon, Indiana. In addition,
California, New York, Rhode Island and Delaware along with some
major jurisdictions including Chicago and Tuscon have added new
laws recently requiring stores to take-back plastic bags and
film for recycling.
According to Environmental Protection Agency data, about 13 percent
of plastic bags and film are recycled annually. While composite
lumber continues to be the major market for recycled plastic
bags and film, 2008 saw a notable increase in international demand
for scrap plastic film.