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Dow and WM Partner to Promote Curbside Film Recycling

Jenny Heumann Godes

Historically, most curbside recycling programs do not collect plastic films for recycling, due to challenges sorting and separating these films from other materials collected for recycling.

To address this challenge, in November 2022, Dow and Waste Management (WM) launched a new collaboration to improve residential recycling for plastic films. WM is leveraging its infrastructure to manage collections and sorting, including implementing specialized technologies that can enable recovered plastic films to be sorted and separated from other materials collected at the curbside.

The initiative will help close the gap of households that have access to curbside plastic recycling by enabling consumers in pilot cities to recycle film plastics like bread bags, cling wrap, and dry-cleaning bags through curbside recycling programs. According to The Recycling Partnership, only 1.9 percent of U.S. households have access to curbside plastic film recycling.

The initial pilot program began in Hickory Hills, Ill., outside of Chicago, reaching approximately 3,500 households, with more cities to follow across the country. Once operating at full capacity, the program is expected to help divert more than 120,000 metric tons of plastics film from landfills annually, and by 2025, film recycling through WM is expected to reach 8 percent of U.S. households.

Waste Management Facility

As North America’s leading provider of comprehensive waste management environmental services, WM has one of the largest platforms in the U.S. to help consumers manage waste they generate in an environmentally responsible manner. WM has invested more than $1 billion in recycling infrastructure in the past decade, with another $680 million in planned investments through 2025. Through its Recycle Right® comprehensive education recycling and outreach program, WM will continue to implement plastic film recycling pilot projects across the U.S.

Dow is working with WM to close the gap for recovered plastic films by enabling end-uses for materials collected through the program. To complement WM’s waste management expertise, Dow is providing its materials science expertise to support this initiative in multiple ways, including trialing and testing the film bales to model and test quality, composition, and end market performance; providing resin and working with a customer to develop and donate carts needed for curbside recycling; and continuing to demonstrate its commitment to investments in circular solutions and technologies.

About the Author
American Chemistry Council

The American Chemistry Council’s mission is to advocate for the people, policy, and products of chemistry that make the United States the global leader in innovation and manufacturing. To achieve this, we: Champion science-based policy solutions across all levels of government; Drive continuous performance improvement to protect employees and communities through Responsible Care®; Foster the development of sustainability practices throughout ACC member companies; and Communicate authentically with communities about challenges and solutions for a safer, healthier and more sustainable way of life. Our vision is a world made better by chemistry, where people live happier, healthier, and more prosperous lives, safely and sustainably—for generations to come.

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