The Materials Recovery For the Future (MRFF) consortium has released the final report on a pilot curbside recycling program for flexible plastic packaging (FPP) that diverted over 2.7 million pounds of FPP from landfill. The report, prepared by RRS, is the third and final report of the MRFF project which evaluated TotalRecycle’s material recycling facility (MRF) curbside recycling program from August 2020 to the end of 2022. The pilot program involved nearly 60,000 households in Berks County, PA, that were able to place plastic bags, films and wraps, along with other recyclables, in their curbside bins.

The report’s primary finding: curbside recycling of FPP is practical and economically feasible. The report provides recommendations to scale up FPP curbside recycling, including providing more recycling bins to residents so more material can be collected, and investing in MRF upgrades to automate sorting to capture more FPP.

“Plastic films and wraps are lightweight, thin and effective at preserving food and protecting packaged goods with little material,” said Shari Jackson, director of plastics sustainability at the American Chemistry Council. “Curbside recycling of plastic films should be easy for consumers in order to improve recycling rates.”

Another important finding: the plastic recycled from the collected film reduced greenhouse gas emissions 25% or more compared to products made with virgin materials. “There’s a significant opportunity for MRFs, flexible packaging manufacturers, and the paper industry to work together on equipment upgrades to increase the quantity and quality of PCR supply for post-consumer recycled content products,” said Susan Graff, vice president of global corporate sustainability at RRS.

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