New Pilot to Demonstrate Curbside Recycling of Flexible Plastic Packaging

This will be the first pilot to demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of recycling household flexible plastic packaging from municipal residential single-stream recycling programs.

The Materials Recovery for the Future (MRFF), Washington, D.C., research program announced a new partnership with J.P. Mascaro & Sons Inc., Audubon, Pa., to pilot single-stream curbside recycling of flexible plastic packaging (FPP) at its TotalRecycle materials recovery facility (MRF) in Berks County, Pa. This will be the first pilot to demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of recycling household FPP from municipal residential single-stream recycling programs.

“Our MRFF collaborative is excited to partner with J.P. Mascaro and demonstrate the recyclability of flexible plastic packaging. We are all committed to the success of this program and look forward to adding recycled flexible packaging into the circular economy. As a side benefit, we expect to see the quality of J.P.’s other recycling streams improve as the flexible plastics are processed,” says Steve Sikra, MRFF chairperson and associate director of global research and development for Procter & Gamble, Cincinnati. 

FPP—which includes films, wraps, bags and pouches—is not widely recycled today. As it becomes a larger part of the packaging waste stream, the need for scalable recycling collection strategies is critical to its sustainability. The pilot is expected to generate data to help inform municipalities and the recycling industry on the most efficient and economical ways to recycle FPP. This will turn used FPP materials, typically destined for disposal, into a bale that can be sold to a variety of end markets.

FPP is becoming a more commonly used form of packaging, thanks to its lightweight properties and enhanced product performance and protection. According to Resource Recycling Systems (RRS), Ann Arbor, the recycling system consultancy which conducts the MRFF research program, 12 billion pounds of the material is introduced into the market for consumer use every year, and it is the fastest growing form of packaging. RRS estimates TotalRecycle will produce 3,100 tons/year of high-quality post-consumer FPP feedstock for various end market uses that are being tested. 

Van Dyk Recycling Solutions, Stamford, CT, will add sorting equipment to Mascaro’s TotalRecycle facility that will target FPP out of the single stream flow. The FPP will be identified and separated by advanced optical sorters, resulting in a new generation bale of FPP.

The pilot program will begin in late 2018 with the installation of the sorting equipment. After an internal testing period, TotalRecycle will begin accepting FPP for recycling from the municipal residents it serves. From equipment order to acceptance of FPP in curbside carts, the pilot program is expected to last two years time.

Materials Recovery for the Future is an initiative of the Foundation for Chemistry Research and Initiatives, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization established by the American Chemistry Council, Washington, DC.

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