The Hefty Energy Bag Program is an initiative that collects previously non-recycled plastics such as juice pouches, candy wrappers, and plastic dinnerware at curbside and converts them into energy resources.
Currently most multi-material flexible plastic packaging, along with other types of plastics, are difficult to mechanically recycle due to technical, environmental, and economic
challenges so they end up in landfills. The Hefty Energy Bag Program sorts previously non- recycled plastics at a material recycling facility, delivers the sorted materials to an energy conversion facility, and converts them into an energy resource — all using an existing waste management infrastructure.
The Hefty Energy Bag Program is underway in the Omaha, Nebraska, where non-recycled plastics collected curbside are converted into energy to produce cement. With support from Mayor Jean Stothert, Dow helped launch the first phase of the program for Recyclebank’s 6,000 existing members in September 2016. The Omaha program was then expanded to include 2,500 additional roller bins so more citizens could participate.
As of mid-January 2016, the program had collected more than 3,200 Hefty Energy Bags and diverted more than 3,500 pounds of non-recycled plastics from landfills. The Omaha program has the potential to divert up to 36 tons of landfill waste, displacing the use of 50 tons of coal or the equivalent amount of petroleum coke per year in local cement kilns, according to Dow. The program is an ongoing project. Hefty Energy Bags are currently sent to energy outlets such as cement kilns and pyrolysis plants to aid in developing new conversion technologies, allowing them to eventually be used to produce alternative chemical feedstocks to produce new plastics, the company says.