The Recycling Partnership’s Film and Flexibles Recycling Coalition announced its first film packaging capture grant to EFS-plastics, a North America-based recycling company that specializes in plastic film recycling. The $200,000 grant will pay for new equipment for its Hazleton, Pa. facility, increasing film recycling capacity by an additional 560,000 pounds per month – equivalent to more than 50 million plastic bags – and laying the groundwork to scale residential film and flexible plastics recycling.
According to The Partnership’s Paying It Forward Report, significant investment is needed for film and flexible packaging to become widely accepted in residential collection and processing – just 1% of U.S. households have the ability to recycle in their bin or cart today. With nearly 95 pounds of these materials found in each U.S. home per year, from grocery and storage bags to pouches and wrappers, system improvements to increase residential film and flexibles recycling are crucial to addressing the plastic waste crisis and saving more than 4 million tons from landfills each year. Film packaging also offers a reduced carbon footprint compared to heavier packaging.
The Film and Flexibles Recycling Coalition, part of The Partnership’s Pathway to Circularity Initiative, is a broad group of industry stakeholders seeking to increase curbside collection of film recycling and support end markets for film and flexible products. The Coalition’s primary focus in 2022-2023 is proving efficient and effective collection through pilot projects as well as infrastructure and optimization grants, complementing The Partnership’s robust grant programs for communities and Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs). In addition to new equipment at the EFS-Hazelton operation, a portion of this grant will fund testing at the EFS-Listowel facility to reprocess material into pellets for creating new products and packaging.
“We are thrilled to announce this grant to EFS-plastics, an important testing ground and milestone in the Coalition’s mission to increase collection of film and flexible packaging,” says Sarah Dearman, VP of Circular Ventures at The Recycling Partnership. “The Partnership believes that a successful system of the future will address recyclability challenges for all materials, and with so much of this valuable material found in every U.S. household, investments to support scaling film and flexible plastic recycling are important and necessary.”
“Recycling more film will have benefits for the recycling system as a whole,” said EFS-plastics Director of Business Development and Procurement Eadaoin Quinn. “Film is a contaminant for many recyclers, but if we can turn more of it into new products, we can reduce the burden on MRFs caused by film while also putting more plastics back into new products rather than into a landfill or incinerator.”
The mission-driven work of the Film and Flexibles Recycling Coalition is supported by contributions from organizations representing all segments of the material’s value chain, including steering committee members American Chemistry Council, Dow, Hill’s Pet Nutrition, The Kraft Heinz Company, Procter & Gamble, SC Johnson and the Walmart Foundation. Other Coalition members include Amcor, AMP Robotics, Berry Global, Campbell Soup Company, Flexible Packaging Association, Happy Family Organics, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc., Kellogg Company, Keurig Dr Pepper, Mars, Incorporated, Mondelez International, Nature Valley and Nestlé. The Coalition is advised by industry leaders Association of Plastic Recyclers and Sustainable Packaging Coalition.