American Recycler News, Inc.


New tools help grocers recycle more on-site plastic containers

The Association of Postconsumer Plastics Recyclers (APR) made available an online resource created to help grocery chains recycle more of the plastic containers they use and empty on-site. The program is aimed at recycling the more than 350 million lbs. of plastic containers that are discarded annually by grocery stores across the United States.

APR’s new tools – which include a how-to guide, technical service assistance, an educational video series, a list of companies that purchase recovered plastics, worksheets to evaluate potential cost savings and revenue, and customizable training materials – are accessible online at and available at no cost.

This Recycle Grocery Rigid Plastics program was funded in part with a grant provided by the Plastics Division of the American Chemistry Council.

“Plastic containers represent a valuable resource for recyclers and a potential revenue stream for the grocers who collect and recycle them,” said Steve Alexander, president and chief executive officer of APR.

Used plastic containers are primarily generated in a store’s bakery, deli, seafood and pharmacy departments. Because many stores already have programs that recycle cardboard and plastic film, expanding those programs to also include plastic containers is a natural fit.

“Many grocery chains have excellent recycling programs already in place. Our new program makes it easy for grocers to generate additional value and strengthen their sustainability efforts by recycling more of the plastics they use every day,” Alexander said.

The Recycle Grocery Rigid Plastics program has been piloted at Hannaford Supermarkets, a subsidiary of Delhaize America, and the Stop & Shop Supermarket Company, a subsidiary of Ahold USA, both of which have been pleased with the outcome. As a result, they are exploring implementation of full-scale programs to collect plastic containers at all of their locations.

“Recycling plastic containers clearly plays a role in our zero waste strategy,” said Christine Gallagher, manager of corporate responsibility for Ahold USA. “Throwing away recyclables is like throwing away money. Waste diversion programs like this can generate cost savings by reducing trash volume. Our stores end up paying less to have their trash removed because there is less to throw away.”