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Recycling of Plastic Bags and Wraps Continues Dramatic Climb

Contact: Jennifer Killinger (202) 249-6619 
Email: jennifer_killinger@americanchemistry.com

2009 Report Shows 31 Percent Increase Since 2005

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Feb. 28, 2011) – The recycling of post-consumer plastic bags and wraps—a category known as plastic “film”—reached a record high of nearly 855 million pounds in 2009, according to a national report conducted by Moore Recycling Associates, Inc. on behalf of the American Chemistry Council.

This represents an increase of nearly 22 million pounds from 2008 and a 31 percent increase since 2005 when Moore Recycling began tracking this category of recycling. In fact, recycling of bags and wraps grew eight times faster than recycling overall during this period.

“We are excited and gratified to see the recycling of plastic bags and wraps continue to grow,” said Steve Russell, vice president of plastics for the American Chemistry Council. “There are now nearly 12,000 locations across the country where consumers can bring back their plastic bags and product wraps to be recycled, many of them at major grocery stores and retail chains like Wal-Mart, Target and Lowe’s. Thanks to the combined efforts of business and civic leaders, communities and NGOs, it’s never been easier or more convenient for consumers to recycle their plastic bags and wraps,” Russell said.

Material from post-consumer plastic bags and product wraps is recycled to make lumber for backyard decks and fences, lawn and garden products, pallets, crates, containers, piping, automotive applications and new plastic bags.

“Collecting more plastic bags and wraps means more valuable recycled material is available for manufacturers—usually small businesses—that rely on it,” Russell added. “One of the biggest opportunities to increase collection is to make more consumers aware that anywhere plastic carryout bags are collected, we also can recycle bags from newspapers, dry cleaning, bread and produce along with wraps from beverage cases, bulk snacks and paper products.”

ACC is working with the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, a project of the nonprofit GreenBlue, to launch new labeling in 2011 for plastic film packaging indicating that these items are suitable for “Store Drop-off.”  This initiative is designed to help consumers better understand how to recycle various packaging components and to provide a harmonized approach to consumer communication on recyclability.

The “2009 National Postconsumer Recycled Plastic Bag & Film Report” was based on information from 70 domestic processors, end-users of plastic film and exporters.

ACC offers online resources to assist communities, businesses and consumers in their efforts to recycle more plastic film.

Plastic Bag Facts |  PlasticBagRecycling.org

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