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Plastics Makers, County Officials Team Up to Increase Plastic Film Recycling

plastic bagsA plastic film recycling campaign has plastic makers and retailers partnering with city and county officials in North Carolina to increase recycling rates.

The American Chemistry Council’s Flexible Film Recycling Group joined Mecklenburg County, North Carolina and Charlotte city officials yesterday at a Harris Teeter store to kick off the campaign. The grocery store accepts plastic wraps and bags for recycling in storefront bins. It’s one of more than 18,000 grocery and retail stores nationwide that collects flexible plastic wraps and bags for recycling.

Consumer awareness, however, about how to recycle plastic film remains low.

A recent survey of Mecklenburg County residents found that only half are aware that certain plastic items should be brought to grocery or retail stores to ensure proper recycling. Plus, few residents are aware of the many types of plastic wraps and bags that can be recycled.

The Mecklenburg County campaign aims to change this. The campaign includes advertising on billboards, buses, newspapers, radio and social media. The goals are to increase the amount of plastic wraps and bags being returned to retailers for recycling, reduce unwanted wraps and bags in curbside bins, and reduce litter.

Plastic film and bags can be recycled into new products such as lumber for backyard decks, fences and benches, and new bags and packaging.

The Mecklenburg County campaign is part of WRAP (Wrap Recycling Action Program), a public-private partnership that promotes recycling of plastic film beyond bags. WRAP has set a goal to double plastic film recycling — reaching about 2 billion pounds — by 2020. The partnership includes the Flexible Film Recycling Group, GreenBlue/the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, the Association of Plastics Recyclers, brand companies, retailers, states, cities and others.

Plastic makers expect the county campaign to serve as a model for other areas in North Carolina and eventually the entire state.

In other efforts to advance effort plastic film recycling, the Closed Loop Foundation recently awarded about $300,000 in grant money to two plastic recycling companies.

Zzyzx, pronounced “ziziks,” is a Pennsylvania-based company that makes recycled plastic pellets from hard-to-recycle plastics. The company says it will use the funding to purchase equipment, ultimately allowing it to process 7 million pounds of film per year per machine.

Drought Diet Products is a California-based company that plans to use post-consumer film plastic feedstock in its irrigation piping products. The company estimates that its technology and business could divert up to 1.4 billion pounds of plastic film from landfills annually.

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