91% of Americans Can Recycle Plastic Bags Locally

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91% of Americans Can Recycle Plastic Bags LocallyBaled plastic bags ready for recycling
Image Credit: Shutterstock/ Huguette Roe
13 April 2012

A new study conducted on behalf of the American Chemistry Council ( ACC) has found that over 91% of the U.S. population can recycle their plastic bags locally, and nearly 75% of can recycle other types of flexible plastic wraps in their own communities.

According to the ACC, 'Plastic Film and Bag Recycling Collection: National Reach Study' - conducted by Moore Recycling Associates - is believed to be the first study to examine consumers' access to recycle flexible plastic packaging.

A separate study released earlier this year found that the recycling of flexible plastics increased 50% over the last five years to reach nearly 1 billion pounds (450,000 tonnes) annually in the U.S.

The latest study, which looked at flexible polyethylene film - a category that includes flexible plastic bags, sacks and many product wraps - identified over 15,000 drop-off locations that collect these items for recycling.

The researchers found that the majority of collection centers are conveniently located in stores, frequently major grocery chains or retailers like Target and Lowe's home improvement stores.

The study also found that despite the prevalence of access to flexible plastic recycling programs, consumers are not yet using this infrastructure to its full potential.

"Plastic bags and wraps are a valuable resource that should be recycled after use," said Steve Russell, vice president of plastics for the American Chemistry Council.

Toward that end, the flexible plastics value chain recently came together to form the Flexible Film Recycling Group (FFRG), which the ACC said is applying industry resources to boost consumer education; labeling of bags, films and wraps with recycling information; and infrastructure expansion.

"Education is the next critical step," added Russell. "Awareness and convenience are key to changing behaviour, and we frequently see that when awareness meets convenience, consumers are very willing to recycle their plastics."

To help increase awareness among consumers, the FFRG is working with the Sustainable Packaging Coalition to develop a 'Store Drop-off' label specifically for flexible plastic packaging. 

Read More

Plastics Recycling Rates Rise Significantly in U.S.
There has been a 72% year on year increase in the collection and recycling of non-bottle rigid plastics in the U.S. and a 14% rise in plastic film recycling, according to a new report by the American Chemistry Council.

Access to Plastics Recycling Rises to 95% in Canada
The Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA) has published recently updated figures that show over 95% of Canadians now have access to plastic recycling options nationwide.

Recycled Plastic Film Industry Set for Take Off
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