Published 1 year ago.
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The joint effort from WM and Dow aims to provide a solution to make it easier for households to recycle the film while the companies explore new options to
reuse it. When fully implemented, the program is expected to prevent 120,000 tons of plastic film from reaching landfills each year.
WM and Dow are working together on a
new program targeting one of the hardest to recycle materials: plastic film. The
new effort is designed to keep thousands of tons of the material out of
landfills while enabling US residential customers to recycle plastic film
directly in their curbside bin or recycling cart.
According to a 2021
by The Recycling Partnership (TRP), the average US household generates
between 42 and 122 pounds of plastic film waste annually. Plastic film is key
for packaging all kinds of items from electronics to food; but according to TRP,
with 99 percent of US residences having no recycling options for the material,
the vast majority ends up in landfills. The joint effort from WM and Dow aims to
provide a solution to make it easier for households to recycle the film while
the companies explore new options to reuse it. When fully implemented, the
program is expected to prevent more than 120,000 tons of plastic film from
reaching landfills each year.
“By providing residential customers with a simple, curbside option for recycling
plastic films, we will not only help our customers more easily manage their used
plastic film products, but also meet the rising demand for recycled content
products,” WM president and CEO Jim Fish said in a statement.
Plastic film is big business: The Flexible Packaging Association
sales of flexible packaging in 2021 hit $39 billion, and a good portion of that
comes in various forms of plastic film — a lightweight and durable way to
transport and maintain the safety of various goods. There are a few different
kinds of plastic film used for most consumer applications — not to mention
plastic pallet wrapping, furniture film and more used in commercial settings.
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However, up until very recently, most companies weren’t considering what happens
to that plastic once it reaches its final destination. According to the TRP
report, there is very little comprehensive data available on how household
generation of this film translates to the responsible capture and recycling of
the most common films found in the trash.
The WM and Dow effort aims to build new infrastructure using each company’s
expertise in environmental solutions and material science, respectively; to
create new, circular
as it pertains to the US value chain.
The first phase of the launch is a pilot program in Hickory Hills, Ill —
which will allow 3,500 households to recycle a variety of common plastic films
curbside. A secondary part of the program includes community connectivity and
education from TRP about the requirements and specifications of what is and
“We recognize that to continue to meet and exceed our sustainability goals, we
need to continue to expand our circularity solutions. We see tremendous untapped
potential to recycle and reuse plastic film, which many of our residential
customers struggle to dispose of properly,” Fish says.
Earlier this year, WM announced that it has agreed to purchase a “controlling
interest” in Natura PCR, LLC — an independent company into which the assets
relating to the US post-consumer resin (PCR) business of circular analytics
provider Avangard Innovative's will be contributed. Natura
PCR expects to produce 400 million pounds of PCR pellets per year in five years.
In simpler terms, this means more recycling pathways for commercial-use plastic
film such as pallet stretch wrap, grocery bags and potentially food & beverage
Through 2025, WM expects to invest more than $800 million in recycling
infrastructure improvements — including specific technology for plastic film
sorting. Within that same time frame, the company also expects plastic film
recycling to reach 8 percent of US households.
The win-win relationship aims to support Dow’s broader commitment to deliver
three million tons of circular and renewable solutions by 2030.
“Enabling a circular economy requires broad stakeholder collaboration,
innovation and investment throughout the value chain to continue to more rapidly
develop and advance solutions at scale,” said Dow chairman and CEO Jim
Fitterling. “Through our collaboration with WM, we’re determined to launch new
programs that grow recycling infrastructure and access nationwide, creating a
more comprehensive system where films and flexible plastics form a key pillar of
our circular product offerings.”
Published Nov 28, 2022 1pm EST / 10am PST / 6pm GMT / 7pm CET
Geoff is a freelance journalist and copywriter focused on making the world a better place through compelling copy. He covers everything from apparel to travel while helping brands worldwide craft their messaging. In addition to Sustainable Brands, he's currently a contributor at Penta, AskMen.com, Field Mag and many others. You can check out more of his work at geoffnudelman.com.
This article, produced in cooperation with the Sustainable Brands editorial team, has been paid for by one of our sponsors.