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Plastic Bag Industry Shoots for 40% Recycled Content by 2015

plastic-bag-recycline-circle2The Full Circle Recycling Initiative aims for 40 percent recycled content in all plastic bags by 2015, including at least 25 percent postconsumer recycled plastic.

The initiative comes from the Progressive Bag Affiliates of the American Chemistry Council.

Overall, the bag industry expects to invest $50 million toward overhaul manufacturing processes to meet the goal, although just how that is done is up to individual companies, according to a press release.

The American Chemistry Council expects participants will collect upwards of 470 million pounds of recycled plastic annually for manufacturing new bags.

The recycling efforts could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 463 million pounds, conserve enough natural gas to heat 200,000 homes, and slash waste by 300 million pounds every year, according to the release.

In 2007, total recycling of plastic bags and wraps reached 830 million pounds, a boost of 27 percent from 2005, according to the release.

While the council expects that California’s 2007 at-store plastic bag recycling mandate and similar laws in New York and Rhode Island will contributed to increasing amounts of recycled bag content, Progressive Bag Affiliates will ramp up work in-store recycling programs with supermarket and retail chains to increase at-store programs.

The initiative has been warmly received by Walgreen Co., the nonprofit Keep America Beautiful, and numerous retailers and retail associations, according to the release.

Many retailers are undertaking their own efforts. Fred Meyer Stores, one of the largest grocery and retail outlets in the Northwest, has diverted 20 tons of plastic bags from landfills two years after the launch of its reusable grocery bag program.

And Tesco is testing a new policy that lets customers remove and leave plastic and paper packaging from products purchased in store.

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