Film recycling rates climbed 4% in 2011 to reach 1 billion lb for the first time, according to a national report released recently. Film is defined in the study as bags, product wraps and commercial shrink film. The report, developed by Moore Recycling Associates, Inc
. on behalf of the American Chemistry Council (ACC), noted that the recycling of plastic film has grown 55% since 2005.
The report noted that approximately 58% of U.S.-recovered post-consumer film was consumed domestically in 2011—up from 5% in 2010—largely due to growth in the plastic and composite lumber industry, the primary market for this material.
The composite lumber industry showed a 120-million-lb increase in consumption from 2010 to 2011 to reach 55% of the total market for recovered film. Consumption of post-consumer plastic film by the film and sheet industry, the second largest market for this material, held steady at 100 million lb, or 16% of the total market.
Recycled PE film is used to make a range of products, including durable plastic and composite lumber for outdoor decks and fencing, home building products, garden products, crates, pipe, and new film packaging like plastic bags.
Through ACC’s Flexible Film Recycling Group (FFRG), which represents resin producers, film converters, brand owners, and recyclers, the industry is actively working to increase both commercial and consumer participation in the film recycling process.
“Reaching the 1-billion-pound mark is an achievement that plastics makers, recyclers and retailers can be proud of,” notes Steve Russell, vice president of plastics for ACC, “and we’re continuing to work together to get that number even higher.”
There are currently more than 15,000 locations where consumers can bring their used polyethylene bags and wraps to be recycled, primarily at large grocery and retail chains across the United States.