There’s a new way for people in Seattle and King County to keep more plastics out of the landfill and recycle them into new products instead. A new pilot program offers a convenient place to drop off plastic wraps, plastic bags, and plastics bubble wrap and mailers, which are not currently accepted in blue bins. King County’s Solid Waste Division and Seattle Public Utilities joined the American Chemistry Council, Return-It, Merlin Plastics, and local grocers to publicly launch the new plastic packaging drop-off collection pilot. The three-month pilot will increase the recycling of plastic wraps and bags – known as film packaging – and convert it into new plastic packaging and products, creating a true closed loop system.

People can bring plastic film packaging to independent grocery stores including Town & Country Markets, PCC Community Markets, Marketime Foods, and Madrona Grocery Outlet. Customers should look for bins marked for plastic bags and wraps set up near the entrance or check-out area. The clean and dry plastics accepted include plastic bags for groceries, produce, bread, dry cleaning, newspapers, and food storage – even sealable food bags with “zippers” – along with e-commerce packaging such as plastic mailers, bubble wrap, and shipping pillows; plastic wraps from beverage cases, diapers, bathroom tissue, and paper towels. These are items that can confuse people who often incorrectly toss them in recycling bins at home.

“We’re excited about this drop-off pilot as we work with partners to elevate solutions that promote a circular economy,” said Pat Kaufman, Green Business Program Manager for Seattle Public Utilities. “When film packaging is recycled and repurposed into new products, there’s less waste headed to the landfill and more conservation of limited natural resources. SPU appreciates the leadership from ACC and our local grocery store partners in providing customers with a convenient drop-off option for plastic bags and film.”

“Now it’s as easy as a trip to the store to give old plastic bags and bubble mailers new life as products made of clean recycled materials,” said Andy Smith, Recycling and Environmental Services Manager for King County Solid Waste Division “This pilot will offer insights on ways to put good recyclable materials back into the economy where they’ll have the most benefit.”

“PCC’s vision is to inspire and advance the health and well-being of people, their communities and our planet,” said Brent Kawamura, Sustainability Manager with PCC Community Markets. “Participating in this pilot program aligns with what we stand for and the actions we are already taking. This new program is a valuable opportunity to do even more through supporting our members and shoppers in keeping materials out of landfills and the environment and helping to recycle them back into new products.”

Film packaging collected through this innovative pilot will be converted into recycled plastic pellets by British Columbia-based recycler Merlin Plastics. These pellets can be used to create a variety of new products, including film packaging and even lumber, achieving circularity for this material. “We are excited to work on this important circularity initiative” said Tony Moucachen, President of Merlin Plastics. “Film packaging is currently recycled and re-used into many applications — both durable ones such as plastic lumber, fences, agricultural applications, as well as non-durable applications such as packaging. Through Merlin’s innovative recycling process, this pilot will increase the recycling of plastics bags and wraps which, in turn, will keep this material out of our natural environment and displace non-renewable resources.”

The Seattle-King County pilot is part of the Wrap Recycling Action Program, or WRAP, a public-private partnership that promotes recycling of plastic wraps and bags.  “We’re thrilled to work with our partners in King County on this groundbreaking initiative to create circularity for plastic wraps and bags,” said Shari Jackson, director of plastics sustainability for ACC. “America’s plastic makers have goals of ensuring 100% of plastic packaging is recyclable by 2030 and is reused, recycled, or recovered by 2040. Expanding access to recycling collection points for consumers through our retail partners and finding new end markets for the material will help all of us reach these goals. We thank NOVA Chemicals Corporation, The Dow Chemical Company, General Mills, and PAC Worldwide for funding this initiative.”

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